New Mexico last Thursday became the fourth state-joining Alaska, California, and Washington-to allow direct dispensation of emergency contraception (EC) by pharmacists. The move came less than two months after Gov. Bill Richardson signed the Emergency Contraception for Sexual Assault Survivors Act, requiring emergency rooms to provide EC information and access for sexual assault survivors, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The latest activity surrounding EC signifies growing awareness of the safe and effective drug, a concentrated dose of birth control hormones that is up to 95 percent effective at preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, contraception failure, or rape. Last month, Women's Capital Corporation, makers of the emergency contraceptive Plan B, submitted their request to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking over-the-counter status for Plan B. Meanwhile, Gynetics, the maker of the EC Preven, told the New York Times it too expects to attain over-the-counter status by the end of next year. Already, EC is available without a prescription in Albania, Belgium Denmark, Finland, France, Israel, Morocco, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, and the UK, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Still, many EC proponents argue that barriers continue to persist, in spite of laws expanding access. In California, only 670 of 5,200 pharmacies signed agreements with physicians to dispense the drug directly. Moreover, many that do charge a $20 to $40 "consulting fee" beyond the $25 to $30 retail drug cost. Joan Hall, a lobbyist for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), criticized the practice as being "highly discriminatory and predatory" considering the absence of such fees for other drugs, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Many pharmacies in California are also now asking women to complete an 11-item questionnaire, which the Pharmacy Access Partnership insists gives pharmacists information for future referrals. Opponents argue the questions are irrelevant and intrusive. Sen. Jackie Speier (D) who is sponsoring legislation to prohibit the consulting fee, cap dispensing fees, and free pharmacists from any obligation to maintain patient-medication records, explained to the LA Times, "It's about discrimination that exists in reproductive health for women." Questionnaires and consulting fees do not accompany dispensations of Viagra.
4/15/2014 Virginia Bishops Advocate More Abortion Restrictions for Poor Women - Using the Medicaid expansion debate as a platform, the Virginia Catholic Conference issued a statement Friday calling for the repeal of a Virginia law that allows state funding of abortion care for Medicaid recipients in situations where the fetus exhibits a "gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity" or a "gross and totally incapacitating mental deficiency."
Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of the Diocese of Richmond and Bishop Paul Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington authored the statement which urges Virginia lawmakers to act to expand Medicaid to cover more of Virginia's poor. . . .
4/14/2014 Kathleen Sebelius Resigns as Secretary of Health & Human Services - President Barack Obama last week announced the resignation of Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius.
Noting that she will "go down in history" for "serving as the Secretary of Health and Human Services when the United States of America finally declared that quality, affordable health care is not a privilege, but it is a right for every single citizen of these United States of America," President Obama praised Secretary Sebelius for guiding the implementation of the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA).
At least 7.5 million Americans have now signed up for health coverage through health insurance marketplaces created by the ACA. . . .