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Founder Reflections on 2023

As I reflect on this past year, 2023 finally brought us some wins in reproductive health. And I personally had the opportunity to contribute to landmark steps forward.

⭐️ The FDA made long awaited changes to the mifepristone REMS program to allow pharmacies to dispense the essential medication. I was part of the research team that conducted multi-site research studies demonstrating the safety and acceptability of pharmacy dispensing of mifepristone, led by Dr. Daniel Grossman at UCSF.

⭐️ The FDA also approved the first over-the-counter birth control pill, OPill, that we will see on the shelves soon. My supportive testimony at the FDA Advisory Committee meeting helped committee members vote unanimously to recommend approval.

⭐️ California is leading the country by investing in implementation of abortion and comprehensive reproductive health care by pharmacists. Birth Control Pharmacist, in partnership with the California Pharmacists Association and CPhA Foundation, will be providing training, technical assistance and pharmacy mini-grants to increase the number of pharmacies dispensing medication abortion care and other reproductive health services. I hope the Pharmacists CARE Initiative will be an inspiration to other states.

⭐️ Our highest leadership at HHS has recognized the value of pharmacists and pharmacy-based care. When I presented at the HHS Roundtable, Secretary Xavier Becerra agreed that pharmacists are an important part of delivering this care. I look forward to seeing pharmacist services incorporated into payment structures.

While this doesn’t balance the ongoing attacks on reproductive health, they are important milestones worth celebrating. It’s a privilege to engage in such meaningful work and partner with so many bright and dedicated individuals. I appreciate the partnership of organizations supporting this work and inviting me to speak at their programs – Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Ibis Reproductive Health, NFPRHA, Reproductive Health Access Project, UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, UC Irvine School of Public Health/OC Women’s Health Project, UConn’s LKS Chapter, UCSF, UNC, University of Maryland/Johns Hopkins University, California State University, California Board of Pharmacy, AMIA Clinical Informatics Fellows (ACIF) Working Group, UCLA/USC, and others.

On the other hand, in addition to all the state policies removing and restricting peoples choices related to their own reproductive health and bodies, we are now seeing the first case threatening the availability of mifepristone on a national level. This case evaluating the validity of FDA approval of mifepristone is a new tactic against reproductive rights. We must use our voices and vote in 2024 to preserve and advance what matters.

We’re passing a mile marker but the long road to reproductive justice in this country continues.

Birth Control Pharmacist Founder, Dr. Sally Rafie, pictured with her Vital Contributions to Women’s Health Award from the ACCP Women’s Health PRN

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