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6/15/2023 General Assembly OKs bill to allow pharmacists to prescribe, dispense birth control
STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today passed legislation introduced by Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) and Sen. Meghan E. Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, Providence) that would allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control.

The bill (2023-H 5282Aaa, 2023-S 0103Aaa) would authorize a pharmacist to prescribe and dispense hormonal contraceptives, provided that the pharmacist has completed a training program approved by the state Board of Pharmacy.

“Taking time off work, finding transportation to a clinic and paying for a doctor’s visit is a lot of work to get birth control — provided you can get access to a primary care physician in the first place,” said Representative Vella-Wilkinson. “Pharmacist-prescribed birth control would improve the quality of life for so many women, which is an important goal of our evolving health care system.”

Representative Vella-Wilkinson credits Rep. Michelle E. McGaw (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton), a consultant pharmacist, with providing critical assistance in the crafting of the legislation.

“One of our most fundamental rights is the right to choose if and when to have children. We have made tremendous progress in recent years reducing unplanned pregnancies and increased access to contraception has been a huge part of that,” said Senator Kallman. “But those changes won’t mean much unless people can actually access healthcare. This bill will help expand access so all Rhode Islanders can get the care they need, especially in an era when we are experiencing such a shortage of primary care physicians. I’m proud we were able to get it done.”

Rhode Island would join several other states that have existing laws allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control.

“This bill will reduce barriers and increase access to effective contraception for Rhode Islanders,” said Nicole Jellinek, chair of the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom. “As Rhode Island struggles with a shortage of primary care providers, pharmacists are medical professionals working in every city and town with expanded hours beyond most traditional medical offices. They can help make contraceptives more accessible to everyone who needs them.” 

Under the legislation, the pharmacist would also be required to provide a self-screening risk assessment tool that the patient must use prior to the pharmacist’s prescribing the birth control.

 “Pharmacists are accessible, well trained and would help identify high-risk patients who are currently without a primary care or reproductive health provider,” said Chris Federico, PharmD, BCACP and president-elect of the Rhode Island Pharmacists Association. “The coverage component of this bill allows a framework to allocate resources and expand services. Without it, pharmacies or pharmacists would not be able to increase access for patients. We look forward to supporting this legislation as it promotes further collaboration with our medical colleagues, and most importantly, the health of Rhode Islanders.”

The measure now moves to the governor’s office.

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903