Over-the-Counter Access to Emergency Contraception without Age Restriction: An Opinion of the Women's Health Practice and Research Network of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy

Authors


  • This paper represents the opinion of the Women's Health Practice and Research Network of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP). It does not necessarily represent an official ACCP commentary, guideline, or statement of policy or position.

For questions or comments, contact Sally Rafie, University of California San Diego Health System, 200 West Arbor Drive, #8765, San Diego, CA 92103; e-mail: srafie@ucsd.edu.

Abstract

Family planning remains a high priority area for the United States, with goals to increase the proportion of pregnancies that are intended, reduce pregnancy rates among adolescents, and increase contraceptive use prioritized in the Healthy People 2020 objectives. Contraception intended for use after unprotected intercourse, known as emergency contraception, remains underutilized. Levonorgestrel is one method of oral emergency contraception, which prevents fertilization and does not disrupt an already established pregnancy; thus, timing of administration is critical. Despite data demonstrating safety and efficacy, evidence-based decision making has been overshadowed by politically charged actions involving levonorgestrel emergency contraception for over a decade. The Women's Health Practice and Research Network of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy supports expanded access to levonorgestrel emergency contraception and removal of barriers such as age restrictions on the nonprescription drug product. Pharmacists remain a key provider of emergency contraceptive services and can help ensure timely access. In states where direct pharmacy access to emergency contraception is available, pharmacists are encouraged to participate. Education, research, and advocacy are other important responsibilities for pharmacists in this arena.

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