New York pharmacists can now provide hormonal contraception without a prescription

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Tuesday, March 19, 2024
NY pharmacists can provide hormonal contraception without prescription
Marcus Solis has more on Hochul's bill making hormonal birth control more accessible.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York pharmacists can now distribute hormonal birth control without the need of a prescription.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday signed a standing order to authorize pharmacists to dispense three different types of hormonal contraception without a prescription.

A health department standing order means locations like Le-Mac Pharmacy in Yonkers can dispense the medications after patients fill out paperwork, similar to how vaccines are now offered.

"It's definitely going to expand access which is good, so that's what we want, people that might not be able to afford to see a doctor can still get access to the medication that they could've already been on, but then they can't get refills on," pharmacist Joseph McCaffrey said.

Officials say it will make it easier for people who have difficulty accessing a primary care provider to get safe and effective contraception. Hochul says it also furthers New York's mission to provide safe and legal family planning care to all.

"At a time when reproductive rights are under attack, New York State will continue to fight for every individual's right to access the health care they need," Hochul said. "Starting a family is a deeply personal decision and New York State will always be a place where people can access safe and effective contraceptives."

The order pertains to three types of hormonal contraceptives that are approved by the FDA to prevent pregnancy, including oral pills, vaginal rings and a contraceptive patch.

Participating pharmacists will be permitted to dispense up to a 12-month supply of the medication.

This is different than the FDA-approved over-the-counter Opill, which is also hormonal birth control and will be available nationwide without a prescription.

These can be bought in pharmacies and are already available for order on and, but the New York State plan promises to be a less expensive option.

"We would ask them a couple questions, direct them to a form, they would be able to fill out the form as long as the patient is eligible according to our order, then we would be able to bill the insurance and expense the medication for the patient," McCaffrey said.

While women in underserved and rural communities stand to benefit from improved access, there's a political component as well. Since the overturn of Roe vs. Wade, New York has also bolstered reproductive rights for those from out of state.

"Whether you're a visitor or a resident, it's available to you, what we've done today by signing this order, if you want to come to New York and have contraception, I've issued a prescription for you," said New York State Acting Health Commissioner James McDonald.

More than two dozen other states have already passed laws expanding access to hormonal birth control, mostly by allowing pharmacists to dispense the drugs themselves or rely on a standing order from a doctor. California was first in 2013.

RELATED | Online orders begin for first over-the-counter birth control pill in the US

The rollout is underway for Opill, the first over-the-counter birth control pill approved in the United States, and online sales began Monday morning.


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