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New bill lets pharmacists prescribe birth control

Published: Mar. 10, 2016 at 6:30 PM EST
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Many women can't get birth control easily. They have to see a doctor and pay a hefty fee just to get the prescription. That can lead to unplanned pregnancies.

"A lot of women just cross their fingers and hope their condoms are going to work and that's not fair," said Dr Susan Dodd, a Gynecologist Specialist in Knoxville.

That's all most women can do because they can't afford the fee to see the doctor.

"If you unexpectedly get fired or are just in-between jobs and you don't have insurance, it's almost impossible to see anybody," said Dr. Dodd.

The Tennessee state Senate approved a bill that will soon allow pharmacists to prescribe and sell the contraceptive over-the-counter to any woman over the age of 18.

Dr. Dodd told Local 8 News it's important birth control is readily available. She said it's safer than pregnancy.

"When you're not prepared and not ready to have children then an unplanned pregnancy can be devastating," said Dr. Dodd.

Some pharmacists said it's going to be tough to know exactly what someone needs and what's safe for that person without the proper examination.

"We're experts in therapeutics of the drugs, what to give when, what levels of drugs, so that's our expertise," said Matthew Poteet, Co-founder of Compounding Pharmacy of America. "Diagnosis really isn't in our scope of practice right now."

The details aren't all worked out yet, but a pharmacist will have to go through the proper training. The patient will fill out a questionnaire and have an interview, but Poteet told Local 8 News they can't do a physical exam.

"There's a lot of patients out there that this could have potential problems for -- women that have genetic mutations that make women more prone to breast cancer," said Poteet.

Dr. Dodd told Local 8 News there shouldn't be anything stopping a woman from getting birth control.

"They're high qualified to check a person's blood pressure, check their brief medical history, make sure they don't have clotting risks in the family and then prescribe whatever low-dose birth control pill is the cheapest," said Dr. Dodd.

Tennessee, along with California and Oregon, will be one of three states prescribing birth control over-the-counter.