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New Mexico Pharmacists to Fill Birth Control Prescriptions

New Mexico health officials hope unwanted pregnancies can be reduced by allowing pharmacists to provide birth control prescriptions. (thenationshealth.aphapublications.org)
New Mexico health officials hope unwanted pregnancies can be reduced by allowing pharmacists to provide birth control prescriptions. (thenationshealth.aphapublications.org)
March 12, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Individual training begins next week for New Mexico pharmacists who want to prescribe and provide birth control to women. The New Mexico Board of Pharmacy approved the new rule last year allowing pharmacists who complete nine hours of training to provide the service.

Lauren Thaxton with the University of New Mexico was one of the physicians who worked on developing the training and protocol. She said many women in New Mexico often have to travel long distances to get medical care.

"We're a very rural state. In addition, we have a huge physician shortage in the state,” Thaxton said. “And so, I think this totally fits in with trying to meet the needs of patients in the best, safest way possible."

Once training is complete, New Mexico will join California, Colorado and Oregon as states that allow pharmacists to prescribe oral contraceptives. Prior to implementation, some expressed concerns about the safety of providing hormonal contraception without physical exams.

But Thaxton said the risk from hormonal contraceptives is generally outweighed by the benefits, and they are considered safe for most women. She noted that women will need to complete a health history questionnaire and have their blood pressure taken at the pharmacy before a pharmacist can determine which methods of birth control are safe.

"This, in other states as well as in New Mexico, is something that we're continuing to study and learn more about as we do it,” she said. “What we're finding is that it's a service that women want. It's a service that women can safely engage in."

Thaxton said easier availability of birth control may help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in New Mexico - which accounted for 47 percent of all pregnancies in 2012, compared with 53 percent of women giving birth who indicated the pregnancy was intentional.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM