Direct Access to Emergency Contraception through Pharmacies
Diana G. Foster, University of California, San Francisco
Frances Chung, Public Health Institute
Mackenzie Melton, Public Health Institute
Since the passage of legislation in California in January 2002, women have been able to access emergency contraception (EC) directly in select California pharmacies without going to a physician or clinic for a prescription. Only 6 states have direct pharmacy access to EC – Alaska, New Mexico, Washington, Maine, Hawaii and California. Little is known about whether removing the requirement of seeking a prescription from a doctor reduces the time it takes to get EC and whether pharmacists are effective at explaining how to use the method. This study describes the experience of 424 women who accessed EC in pharmacies between July and August 2004. 25 participating pharmacies asked women seeking EC to fill out an anonymous and confidential questionnaire. The questionnaire asked women about their demographic characteristics, reasons for requesting EC, time since last unprotected intercourse, how they learned about direct access, and their experience receiving EC at the pharmacy.