Special Issue "Pharmacist Contraception Services"

A special issue of Pharmacy (ISSN 2226-4787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Sally Rafie
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Department of Pharmacy, University of California San Diego Health, San Diego, CA 92103, USA
2. Birth Control Pharmacist, San Diego, CA 92122, USA
Interests: role of pharmacists and pharmacies in family planning care, public health and advanced pharmacist practice

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The role of pharmacists and pharmacies in the delivery of contraception care and related services is rapidly expanding. There have been challenges to realizing the full reach and impact of these services.
We invite you to share your views and research by submitting a manuscript to the “Pharmacist Contraception Services” Special Issue in the journal Pharmacy—an open-access journal with a focus on pharmacy education and practice.
For this Special Issue, we seek manuscripts including, but not limited to the following topics related to pharmacist contraception services: (1) training and education, (2) implementation, (3) payment for services, (4) clinical outcomes, (5) public awareness, and (6) policy. We seek manuscripts of all types including: (1) reviews, (2) commentaries, (3) idea papers, (4) case studies, (5) demonstration studies, and (6) research studies.
If the Special Issue publishes more than 10 papers, the publisher will print a book edition that would be made available, both in digital format for free and in paperback format available by order.
I hope this Special Issue will inspire pharmacists, policymakers, advocates, and researchers to consider adopting best practices and addressing the remaining challenges to realize the full potential of pharmacist contraception services in serving our communities.
Please feel free to contact me with any ideas or questions. I look forward to your submissions.

Dr. Sally Rafie
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Pharmacy is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • contraception
  • hormonal contraception
  • emergency contraception
  • birth control
  • pharmacist prescribing
  • pharmacy access

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

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Article
Extended Access to Hormonal Contraception in Pharmacies: A Survey among Swiss Pharmacists
Pharmacy 2020, 8(4), 210; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8040210 - 10 Nov 2020
Viewed by 867
Abstract
Background: Worldwide the availability to Hormonal Contraceptives (HC) varies from over the counter (OTC) to prescription-only access. In various countries pharmacists are allowed to prescribe HC, although conditions may be different. In Switzerland, HC require a prescription from a physician, although Swiss law [...] Read more.
Background: Worldwide the availability to Hormonal Contraceptives (HC) varies from over the counter (OTC) to prescription-only access. In various countries pharmacists are allowed to prescribe HC, although conditions may be different. In Switzerland, HC require a prescription from a physician, although Swiss law allows pharmacists to dispense prescription-only medications in justified exceptional cases without a valid physician’s prescription. This study aimed to identify current dispensing practices for HC in Swiss pharmacies, pharmacists’ knowledge about HC, and their opinion and interest about expanding access to HC. Methods: Web-based survey among Swiss pharmacists. Results: This survey was completed by 397 registered pharmacists and 331 (83%) were included for analysis. The survey showed that 21% of respondents regularly dispense HC without prescription and that a high number of participants are either very interested (57%, n = 189) or rather interested (33%, n = 110) in extended pharmacy access to HC. The majority did not or rather not support physician’s prescription-only status (77%, n = 256) or OTC availability (94%, n = 310). Furthermore, surveyed pharmacists are willing to train for contraception services (90%, n = 299). According to participants, resistance of physicians is the most relevant barrier to this service (88%, n = 292). Conclusion: Surveyed pharmacists are interested in extended access to HC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacist Contraception Services)
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Article
Role of Pharmacists in Hormonal Contraceptive Access: A Survey of North Carolina Pharmacists
Pharmacy 2020, 8(4), 191; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8040191 - 16 Oct 2020
Viewed by 673
Abstract
The role of pharmacy in healthcare continues to evolve as pharmacists gain increased clinical responsibilities in the United States, such as the opportunity to prescribe hormonal contraception. Currently, North Carolina (NC) pharmacists do not have this ability. While previous research focused on the [...] Read more.
The role of pharmacy in healthcare continues to evolve as pharmacists gain increased clinical responsibilities in the United States, such as the opportunity to prescribe hormonal contraception. Currently, North Carolina (NC) pharmacists do not have this ability. While previous research focused on the perceptions of community pharmacists surrounding this practice, no previous research surveyed all pharmacists in a state. This cross-sectional, web-based survey was distributed to all actively licensed pharmacists residing in the state of NC in November 2018. The primary objective was to determine the likelihood of NC community pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraception. Secondary outcomes included: evaluation of all respondent support and perceptions of this practice as advocacy occurs on the state organization level and unified support is critical; opinions regarding over-the-counter (OTC) status of contraception; and potential barriers to prescribing. Overall, 83% of community pharmacists were likely to prescribe hormonal contraception. No differences in likelihood to prescribe were detected between geographic settings. Community pharmacists reported that the most common barriers to impact prescribing were added responsibility and liability (69.8%) and time constraints (67.2%). Fewer than 10% of respondents felt that hormonal contraception should be classified as OTC (7.9%). Noncommunity pharmacists were significantly more likely to agree that prescribing hormonal contraception allows pharmacists to practice at a higher level, that increased access to hormonal contraception is an important public health issue, and that rural areas would benefit from pharmacist-prescribed hormonal contraception. Overall, this study found a willingness to prescribe and support from the majority of both community and noncommunity pharmacists. Limitations of the study included a low response rate and potential nonresponse bias. Future research is needed to address solutions to potential barriers and uptake of this practice, if implemented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacist Contraception Services)
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Article
Pharmacy Implementation of a New Law Allowing Year-Long Hormonal Contraception Supplies
Pharmacy 2020, 8(3), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8030165 - 06 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 856
Abstract
Background: Prescription hormonal contraceptive methods are vital to prevention of unplanned pregnancies. New legislation among 23 states has expanded access to contraception. In California, a 2017 law requires pharmacists to dispense year-long supplies of contraception and insurance plans to cover it upon patients’ [...] Read more.
Background: Prescription hormonal contraceptive methods are vital to prevention of unplanned pregnancies. New legislation among 23 states has expanded access to contraception. In California, a 2017 law requires pharmacists to dispense year-long supplies of contraception and insurance plans to cover it upon patients’ request. This study assesses pharmacist knowledge of this new law 6 months after enactment. Methods: From July to November 2017, a random selection of 600 community pharmacies were called requesting a pharmacist (n = 532, 88.7% response). Pharmacists were asked if they had heard of the new law, if they would dispense a year-long supply to cash-pay, privately or publicly insured patients, and what they perceived as obstacles to dispensing year-long supplies. Results: Awareness of this law was assessed through these surveys. Most pharmacists responded they would dispense year-long supplies to cash-pay patients, regardless of knowledge of the new law (81% of “knew”, 70% of “did not know”, p = 0.1046). The top two perceived obstacles were insurance reimbursement (55.8%) and store policy (13.4%). Conclusion: Despite a new law requiring insurance coverage of a year-long supply of prescription birth control, most pharmacists were unaware at six months after the policy went into effect. Of those who were aware, the majority did not clearly understand it. Compliance among insurance plans is unknown. There was no implementation plan or awareness campaign for the new law. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacist Contraception Services)
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Article
Effect of a Simulated Activity on Student Ability, Preparedness, and Confidence in Applying the Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process to Contraceptive Prescribing
Pharmacy 2020, 8(3), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8030146 - 17 Aug 2020
Viewed by 806
Abstract
Several states now permit pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraception. Consequently, some schools of pharmacy now incorporate activities intending to prepare students to offer this service. This study aimed to assess the impact of a simulated activity on student pharmacists’ readiness for, ability to [...] Read more.
Several states now permit pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraception. Consequently, some schools of pharmacy now incorporate activities intending to prepare students to offer this service. This study aimed to assess the impact of a simulated activity on student pharmacists’ readiness for, ability to use, and confidence in applying the Pharmacists Patient Care Process along with the United States Medical Eligibility Criteria to a patient seeking contraception. Students completed a contraceptive-prescribing simulation with standardized patients. Scores were analyzed for safe and appropriate prescribing practices. Pre- and post-workshop surveys measured confidence and perceived preparedness. Chi-square and Mann–Whitney U tests were used to analyze categorical variables and Likert-scale data, respectively.The mean activity score was 86% (median 90%), with significant change in student confidence of ability to complete the process (p < 0.0001). The majority of students at baseline (52.2%) and follow up (53.2%) reported needing more practice during advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPEs) to feel prepared. There was a significant change pre/post in students who agreed that their curriculum prepared them (15% to 28.7%, p = 0.0014). This study suggests that students are able to safely and appropriately prescribe contraception in a simulated activity. The activity increased student reported confidence and moved some students towards readiness for contraceptive prescribing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacist Contraception Services)
Article
Emergency Contraception Access and Counseling in Urban Pharmacies: A Comparison between States with and without Pharmacist Prescribing
Pharmacy 2020, 8(2), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8020105 - 19 Jun 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 983
Abstract
Pharmacists are often the primary source of emergency contraception (EC) access and patient information. This study aims to identify differences in pharmacist-reported EC access and counseling between states which do or do not permit pharmacist-prescribed EC. This prospective, mystery caller study was completed [...] Read more.
Pharmacists are often the primary source of emergency contraception (EC) access and patient information. This study aims to identify differences in pharmacist-reported EC access and counseling between states which do or do not permit pharmacist-prescribed EC. This prospective, mystery caller study was completed in California (CA), which permits pharmacist-prescribed EC after completion of continuing education, and Georgia (GA), which does not. All community pharmacies that were open to the public in San Diego and San Francisco, CA, and Atlanta, GA were called by researchers who posed as adult females inquiring about EC via a structured script. Primary endpoints were EC availability and counseling. Statistical analyses completed with SPSS. Researchers called 395 pharmacies, 98.2% were reached and included. Regarding levonorgestrel (LNG), CA pharmacists more frequently discussed (CA 90.4% vs. GA 81.2%, p = 0.02), stocked (CA 89.5% vs. GA 67.8%, p < 0.01), and correctly indicated it “will work” or “will work but may be less effective” 4 days after intercourse (CA 67.5% vs. GA 17.5%, p < 0.01). Ulipristal was infrequently discussed (CA 22.6% vs. GA 3.4%, p < 0.01) and rarely stocked (CA 9.6% vs. GA 0.7%, p < 0.01). Pharmacists practicing in states which permit pharmacist-prescribed EC with completion of required continuing education may be associated with improved patient access to oral EC and more accurate patient counseling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacist Contraception Services)
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Article
Attitudes of Michigan Female College Students about Pharmacists Prescribing Birth Control in a Community Pharmacy
Pharmacy 2020, 8(2), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8020099 - 09 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1129
Abstract
In the United States, the overall unintended pregnancy rate is about 45%. Women between 20–24 years old account for 59% of the unintended pregnancies. Continuous birth control use is related to decreasing unintended pregnancies. Therefore, we assessed female college students’ opinions about pharmacists [...] Read more.
In the United States, the overall unintended pregnancy rate is about 45%. Women between 20–24 years old account for 59% of the unintended pregnancies. Continuous birth control use is related to decreasing unintended pregnancies. Therefore, we assessed female college students’ opinions about pharmacists prescribing birth control in a community pharmacy using an intersectionality framework. A survey with 49 items about provider attributes, pharmacy services use and evaluation, advantages and barriers of pharmacists prescribing birth control, sexual and reproductive history, and demographics was distributed by survey link and QR code. Recruitment was done by investigators and students (snowballing technique) via emails, social media posts, and direct student contact. Respondents (n = 859) were 23.0 ± 4.9 years old, 83% white, 64% healthcare students, 32% student pharmacists, 69% sexually active, 68% with at least one episode of unprotected intercourse within a year, and 29% never using condoms. Forty-six percent of students were extremely likely and 26% moderately likely to get birth control from a pharmacist because it would be easier to adhere to birth control, could prevent unintended pregnancies, would be more convenient, and require less time. Concerns included the lack of Pap screenings and prescriptions written for the wrong birth control. Within most student characteristics or attitudes assessed, at least 70% of the students would use this service. Based on student opinions, female college students would use pharmacists prescribing birth control services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacist Contraception Services)
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Article
Exploring the Availability of Emergency Contraception in New Brunswick Pharmacies: A Mystery-Client Telephone Study
Pharmacy 2020, 8(2), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8020076 - 30 Apr 2020
Viewed by 906
Abstract
Although levonorgestrel-only emergency contraceptive pills (LNg-ECPs) have been available over the counter in Canada for more than a decade, barriers to access persist. We aimed to obtain information about the availability and cost of LNg-ECPs in New Brunswick. Using a mystery-client study design, [...] Read more.
Although levonorgestrel-only emergency contraceptive pills (LNg-ECPs) have been available over the counter in Canada for more than a decade, barriers to access persist. We aimed to obtain information about the availability and cost of LNg-ECPs in New Brunswick. Using a mystery-client study design, we called all 207 non-specialty pharmacies in the province posing as a 17-year-old woman seeking something to prevent pregnancy after sex. We evaluated the information provided for accuracy and quality. The overwhelming majority of pharmacies (n = 180, 87%) had at least one brand of LNg-ECPs in stock; the price averaged CAD28.69 (USD21.65). Although the majority of pharmacy representatives provided accurate information about LNg-ECPs, a small number made incorrect statements about the timeframe for use, side effects, and mechanism of action. In nine interactions (4%) pharmacy representatives incorrectly indicated that a male partner could not obtain LNg-ECPs; none indicated that parental involvement was required to procure LNg-ECPs. None of the pharmacy representatives referenced any other modality of emergency contraception, including ulipristal acetate. Our findings suggest that LNg-ECPs are widely available and that most pharmacy representatives are providing accurate medical and regulatory information. However, supporting the continuing education of pharmacists and pharmacy staff, particularly around alternative modalities of emergency contraception, appears warranted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacist Contraception Services)
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Article
Adolescents’ Perceptions of Contraception Access through Pharmacies
Pharmacy 2020, 8(2), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8020053 - 28 Mar 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 949
Abstract
Adolescent pregnancy is an important public health issue, and pharmacist prescribing has the potential to expand contraceptive access and decrease unintended pregnancy. However, little is known about acceptability and uptake of pharmacist prescribing among adolescents, particularly among youth in socially and politically conservative [...] Read more.
Adolescent pregnancy is an important public health issue, and pharmacist prescribing has the potential to expand contraceptive access and decrease unintended pregnancy. However, little is known about acceptability and uptake of pharmacist prescribing among adolescents, particularly among youth in socially and politically conservative regions of the country. The study objective was to identify how young women in Indiana perceive pharmacist contraceptive prescribing. Participants were recruited from clinics and completed a simulated pharmacist contraception-prescribing encounter; a demographic and behavioral questionnaire; and an in-depth qualitative interview focused on adolescent perspectives on pharmacist prescribing. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Sixty young women aged 14–21 years (mean age 17.0 ± 1.7 years) completed in-depth interviews. The majority expressed interest in pharmacist contraceptive prescribing (n = 33, 55.9%). Three overarching themes were identified, focusing on accessibility; quality of care; and pharmacist knowledge and youth friendliness. Subthemes highlighted the need for improved confidential access; a desire for additional pharmacist training in contraception; and interactions with a pharmacist that can relate to the young person. Increased awareness of the perceptions of young people can inform state policies and pharmacy protocols. Pharmacists, because of their accessibility, are well poised and equipped to assist in this public health concern. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacist Contraception Services)
Article
Over-The-Counter Availability of Levonorgestrel Emergency Contraception in Pharmacies on Oahu
Pharmacy 2020, 8(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8010020 - 15 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 869
Abstract
Since the United States Food and Drug Administration’s approval of over-the-counter levonorgestrel emergency contraception, access to this time-sensitive medication has improved. However, multiple barriers, including the cost of the medication and pharmacy availability, still exist. The objective of this study was to determine [...] Read more.
Since the United States Food and Drug Administration’s approval of over-the-counter levonorgestrel emergency contraception, access to this time-sensitive medication has improved. However, multiple barriers, including the cost of the medication and pharmacy availability, still exist. The objective of this study was to determine the over-the-counter availability of levonorgestrel emergency contraception in pharmacies on Oahu, Hawaii. We conducted a cross-sectional population-based study using in-person simulated patient encounters at all pharmacies on Oahu. Out of 109 chain pharmacies and 13 independent pharmacies, 102 (84%) pharmacies had levonorgestrel emergency contraception available over the counter. Of pharmacies in which it was available, 12.7% required an employee to unlock the medication, 37.3% required the medication to be unlocked at the register, 29.4% were packaged in a large plastic box, and 3.9% were packaged in a blister pack. Levonorgestrel emergency contraception is widely available as an over-the-counter medication in pharmacies on Oahu, yet there are packaging and display practices that make it less accessible. Many of these practices could be improved with pharmacy education or changes in store policies. Systems-based interventions are needed to improve the access to levonorgestrel emergency contraception as an over-the-counter medication. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacist Contraception Services)
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Review

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Review
Long-Lasting, Patient-Controlled, Procedure-Free Contraception: A Review of Annovera with a Pharmacist Perspective
Pharmacy 2020, 8(3), 156; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8030156 - 28 Aug 2020
Viewed by 1219
Abstract
Annovera (segesterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol vaginal system) is a US Food and Drug Administration FDA-approved long-lasting, reversible contraceptive that is fully administered by the user and does not require a procedure for insertion or removal. The vaginal system is in the shape [...] Read more.
Annovera (segesterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol vaginal system) is a US Food and Drug Administration FDA-approved long-lasting, reversible contraceptive that is fully administered by the user and does not require a procedure for insertion or removal. The vaginal system is in the shape of a ring and contains low doses of a novel progestin, egesterone acetate, and ethinyl estradiol. It is made of silicone and is fully pliable and flexible. The vaginal system is reusable for 13 cycles, using a 21 days in/7 days out regimen, providing women with the ability to control their fertility. Particularly now during the COVID-19 pandemic when access to contraception has been further reduced, patients may benefit from a method that is both long-lasting and patient-controlled. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacist Contraception Services)
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Other

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Commentary
Expanding Pharmacy Capacity for Patient-Centered Reproductive Health Services
Pharmacy 2020, 8(4), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8040236 - 09 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 936
Abstract
In the United States, patients face increasing practical barriers and concerns about stigma when seeking sexual and reproductive healthcare, specifically family planning services involving hormonal contraception, emergency contraception, and abortion. The pharmacist is a member of the interprofessional care team with the ability [...] Read more.
In the United States, patients face increasing practical barriers and concerns about stigma when seeking sexual and reproductive healthcare, specifically family planning services involving hormonal contraception, emergency contraception, and abortion. The pharmacist is a member of the interprofessional care team with the ability to provide non-judgmental, high-quality, and patient-centered care. The community pharmacy setting itself offers specific advantages which promote access, including availability in most neighborhoods, broad hours of operation, lack of need for an appointment, and a stigma-free space which is frequented for other goods and services. This commentary suggests specific ways for pharmacies to improve access to contraception, emergency contraception, and abortion in line with national quality recommendations. Particular focus is given to the intersection of sexual and reproductive health resources and referrals within the pharmacy profession as well as the training and technical assistance tools which can help address unmet patient need. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacist Contraception Services)
Commentary
Opposition to Pharmacist Contraception Services: Evidence for Rebuttal
Pharmacy 2020, 8(4), 176; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8040176 - 23 Sep 2020
Viewed by 1171
Abstract
Pharmacist contraception services are growing across the United States. Several states have authorized pharmacists to prescribe contraception, and the interest in other states continues to grow. Opposition to these practices exists and centers on discussions related to safety, training, cost, and fragmentation of [...] Read more.
Pharmacist contraception services are growing across the United States. Several states have authorized pharmacists to prescribe contraception, and the interest in other states continues to grow. Opposition to these practices exists and centers on discussions related to safety, training, cost, and fragmentation of care. We review these arguments and provide evidence refuting these concerns. Pharmacist-prescribed contraception increases access to care, and patients express interest in utilizing this service at the pharmacy. Pharmacists follow evidence-based recommendations. Counseling on preventative services and referral to other providers is part of contraception care by pharmacists. Training programs have been developed to equip both pharmacy students and pharmacists with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to successfully provide these services. This article can serve as a guide for pharmacists and advocates when discussing pharmacist-prescribed contraception with policymakers, patients, and other healthcare professionals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacist Contraception Services)
Commentary
Pharmacists and Contraception in the Inpatient Setting
Pharmacy 2020, 8(2), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8020082 - 09 May 2020
Viewed by 917
Abstract
The choice of contraceptive method should be based on patient specific factors, patient preference, and method-specific properties. In this article, we review opportunities for an inpatient clinical pharmacist to assist in the selection and counseling of contraceptives in hospitalized patients. An inpatient pharmacist [...] Read more.
The choice of contraceptive method should be based on patient specific factors, patient preference, and method-specific properties. In this article, we review opportunities for an inpatient clinical pharmacist to assist in the selection and counseling of contraceptives in hospitalized patients. An inpatient pharmacist has the opportunity to discuss various contraceptive methods with the patient, ensuring an appropriate method is used after discharge, which is especially important after the occurrence of a contraception-related adverse effect or contraindication to certain contraceptive methods. Barriers, such as formulary restrictions, can limit inpatient initiation of contraceptive therapy while hospitalized, but pharmacists can provide education on appropriate alternatives. Inpatient clinical pharmacists can also make recommendations for contraceptive methods in special populations. It is crucial to select an appropriate therapy in patients with an underlying medical condition, such as those with active or history of breast cancer, psychiatric disorder, or thrombophilia, as inappropriate therapy can cause an increased risk of harm. Pharmacists can assist in contraceptive counseling, evaluating for drug-drug and drug-disease interactions, and recommending the most appropriate therapy in special populations. An inpatient pharmacist has the opportunity to interact with the medical team and assist in navigation of teratogenic medication use and Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacist Contraception Services)
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