• New York State Department of Health Issues Standing Order to Make Oral Hormonal Pill, Hormonal Vaginal Ring and Hormonal Contraceptive Patch Available Without Prescription
  • Participating Pharmacists Will be Permitted to Dispense up to 12 Month Supply of Contraception
  • Standing Order Will Further New York State’s Mission to Provide Safe and Legal Reproductive Health Care to All

Governor Kathy Hochul today joined New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald at College Parkside Pharmacy in Albany to sign a standing order authorizing pharmacists to dispense three types of hormonal contraception medication without a prescription. This measure makes it easier for people who have difficulty accessing a primary care provider to get safe and effective contraception at their local pharmacy and furthers New York State’s mission to provide safe and legal family planning care to all.

“At a time when reproductive rights are under attack, New York State will continue to fight for every individual’s right to access the health care they need,” Governor Hochul said. “Starting a family is a deeply personal decision and New York State will always be a place where people can access safe and effective contraceptives.”

The standing order signed by the State Health Commissioner pertains to three types of self-administered hormonal contraceptives that are approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration to prevent pregnancy, which include the following:

  1. Oral hormonal pill
  2. Hormonal vaginal ring
  3. Hormonal contraceptive patch

Pharmacists who choose to participate can dispense up to 12 months of a self-administered hormonal contraception of the individual’s preference and covered under their insurance.

Today’s announcement builds on several actions from Governor Kathy Hochul since the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Governor Hochul led New York State in protecting abortion access, including making a nation-leading $35 million investment to support abortion providers across the state, purchasing a five-year supply of misoprostol and signing laws protecting patients and providers and strengthening access for abortion care through telehealth services. As part of her FY2024 budget, Governor Hochul allocated $100.7 million in new funding to support abortion providers and reproductive health care.

The New York State Board of Regents, the agency that grants pharmacy licenses, voted on March 12, 2024, to approve an emergency amendment that was necessary before the State Health Commissioner could issue the standing order.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, “Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, New York State continues to expand access to contraception options and break down longstanding barriers to reproductive care that persist across the nation. This is about access to care and individual autonomy. By issuing a standing order to allow pharmacists to provide hormonal contraception medications, more people can choose the right reproductive care for themselves and the right time for them to have a child. New York State will continue to fight for reproductive rights and advance health equity through meaningful measures that broaden access to care for all. In partnership with the State Education Department, we will work with our licensed pharmacist professionals over the next several weeks so they’re ready to provide these important contraception medications.”

Participating pharmacists could be ready and able to dispense hormonal contraceptives over the next several weeks. Individuals should reach out to their local pharmacy for more information about if and when the services will be available.

As part of this process, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education has developed a set of competencies required for pharmacists who choose to participate to self-attest. Pharmacists will need to maintain their own documentation of training and make it available to the state Department of Education upon request.

New York State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “Reproductive health is a fundamental human right. Working with our partners at the Department of Health, we were able to deliver on the promise of expanded access to contraception medication for all New Yorkers. The State Education Department is committed to ensuring the public’s safety every day through our oversight and work with New York’s licensed professions and are grateful for the role our pharmacists are playing to provide this important healthcare service to the residents of our state. I thank the Board of Regents for their swift action on the regulatory changes necessary to implement this vital law and for their commitment to breaking down barriers and empowering communities across the state.”

Prior to dispensing these self-administered medications, a pharmacist is required to provide the individual with a self-screening patient intake form. If the pharmacist deems the selected medication appropriate, they will provide counseling including direction for self-administered usage, potential risks associated with medications, and risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Individuals will have to self-screen at minimum every 12 months, and pharmacists will be required to notify an individual’s primary health care practitioner within 72 hours of dispensing the medication unless the patient requests otherwise.

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said, “I’m proud to see this legislation take effect as well as expand options for women. While women’s reproductive freedom has been under attack, Governor Hochul and the Legislature have been on the forefront of accessibility for all who choose to use it. Allowing women to easily obtain contraception is a fundamental right and now they will be able to do so after a consultation with their local pharmacist.”

State Senator Gustavo Rivera said, “As Republicans across the country continue to dehumanize women and erode reproductive health rights across the country, New York State is protecting patients and providers with expanded, long-term access to contraception. I commend Senator Stavisky and Assemblymember Paulin for passing this legislation and the Health Department under Governor Hochul’s leadership for prioritizing and protecting New Yorkers’ right to choose.”

Assembly member Amy Paulin said, “Last year I was extremely proud to pass the Birth Control Access Act. While reproductive rights are under attack across the country, New York has taken this step to support and expand access to reproductive healthcare. It is a fundamental right to have convenient access to contraception, and today we are making that a reality for New Yorkers. I thank Governor Hochul and NYS DOH Commissioner McDonald for their partnership in making New York State a reproductive safe haven. It’s days like today which make me especially proud and happy to be a New Yorker.”

Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, “As other states seek to restrict access to reproductive healthcare, New York is leading the way on expanding it for millions of women. Enabling pharmacists to dispense contraceptives without a patient-specific order will allow New Yorkers to access reproductive healthcare without first visiting a doctor. Under Governor Kathy Hochul’s leadership, New York continues to be a beacon of choice in a post-Roe world, and I commend her for taking action once again.”

Pharmacists Society of the State of New York Board President Leigh McConchie, RPh said, “New York pharmacists are pleased to once again join the state in expanding patients’ access to reproductive health care. Self-administered hormonal contraceptives are used by thousands of New Yorkers for a variety of reproductive health needs—including but not limited to the treatment of irregular menstrual cycle—as well as to prevent a pregnancy. A patient’s pharmacy is often more available and convenient than a physician’s office or reproductive health care office, especially when time is of the essence. Today’s emergency standing order further empowers pharmacists to play a vital role in the overall patient health care team, and we commend Governor Hochul, Commissioner McDonald and NYSDOH for cementing New York’s stance as a leader in reproductive rights for all.”

More information on the New York State standing order can be found on the State Department of Health’s website here or the State Education Department website here.