In January 2023, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a law allowing patients to access certain types of contraceptive medication without prescriptions. New Jersey joins 20 other states with similar laws. The New Jersey law took effect earlier this month. Read on for more about this bill and how New Jersey stacks up to other states on this topic.
About the Bill
The bill, S-275, was originally introduced in January 2022 but didn’t get full approval until December 2022. It was signed into law in January 2023. The co-sponsors include Senator Shirley Turner and Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, as well as Senator Joseph Vitale, Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji.
The legislation removes the need for a prescription for certain types of birth control. Patients can now get self-administered forms of contraceptives like the ring, the patch, and some hormonal birth control pills directly from a pharmacist.
Several other states have similar laws, including three others that enacted similar laws during this spring’s legislative sessions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the other states that enacted similar laws this year joining New Jersey as of May 1st, 2023 were Indiana, Montana, and New York.
According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, 20 states have similar laws in place, and the trend continues to move forward. In a statement, the organization said that California was the first to enact a similar law in 2013. “Pharmacists are an underutilized and essential resource for so many Americans, especially for people who live far from other healthcare providers or have limited access for other reasons,” said Tom Kraus, JD, ASHP vice president of government relations.
Self-administered birth control methods including the pill, the patch, and the ring are now available to customers without a prescription. New Jersey does not have a residency requirement to purchase these items, so customers from other states could make these purchases in New Jersey.
Customers are required to take a self-screening test to access hormonal birth control. New Jersey pharmacists will have to follow standardized procedures and protocols adopted jointly by the Board of Pharmacy and the State Board of Medical Examiners and complete a training program. Pharmacists are also able to counsel patients about what method would be best for them.
Also this month, an advisory panel of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted to recommend approval for an over-the-counter birth control pill. According to the New York Times, the pill is called Opill and is known as a ‘mini pill’ because it contains only one hormone, progesterone. A final decision from the agency is expected later this summer.