News Releases

  • PIWH Urges Senate to Pass Comprehensive Health Care Reform for ALL Women at Bay Area Rally – Including Abortion Coverage 
  • Forum on Women’s Global Health 
  • PAP Launches First Reproductive Health Leadership Program for Pharmacists
  • Appeals Court Rules That WA Pharmacists Must Provide All Medications, Including Emergency Contraception
  • FDA Approves New EC Product – But Age Restrictions Continue
  • Pharmacy Access Partnership Launches the First US-Based Program to Promote Youth Access in Pharmacies

  • Archives

December 1, 2009

Belle Taylor-McGhee,
(510) 272 – 0150

Statement by Belle Taylor-McGhee, President and CEO of the Pacific Institute for Women’s Health, Urging Senate to Pass Comprehensive Health Care Reform for ALL Women – Including Abortion Coverage

(Oakland / Los Angeles, CA) – Women and their families face dire economic times and deserve fair and just health care access. Yet a few weeks ago, one of the most extreme pieces of legislation passed into the first iteration of the health care reform bill – essentially denying women vital medical care.

The Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which passed in the House version, prohibits any federal funding for abortion procedures within the new health insurance ‘exchange’ – including both the public option and private health insurance plans. This is bad public policy and compromises the health of millions of women who are currently uninsured. Moreover, this measure restricts health care access to individuals who would receive a government subsidy under the plan. For example, any four-person family making $88,000 a year or less that receives a subsidy would be prohibited from buying an insurance plan that covers abortion.

The Stupak-Pitts amendment is a clear demonstration of how women’s health is being used as a bargaining chip in the health care debate. In the U.S. a devastating restriction on abortion access already exists. For 32 years, the Hyde Amendment has prohibited the use of federal funds for abortion under the Medicaid program. Now, legislators are looking to further pigeonhole women into riskier, costlier and life-threatening options in order to access basic reproductive
health care.

We are equally concerned that both the House and Senate versions of health care reform contain provisions that limit the ability of immigrants to access or purchase health care coverage that they need. This is a human rights infringement that is morally indefensible.

Women may not anticipate their need for abortion, but it remains a legal right and a vital medical option for one in three women in the U.S. As the health care reform bill moves forward through the Senate, we must demand that reproductive health care, including abortion, is available to anyone who needs it.

For more information, visit

September 30, 2009                      

Juana Rosa Cavero
(213) 386-1383

Pharmacy Access Partnership – a center of the Pacific Institute for Women’s Health – Celebrates October as National Pharmacist’s Month by Launching the first Reproductive Health Leadership Program for Pharmacists

(Los Angeles/ Oakland, CA) – The Pacific Institute for Women’s Health and Pharmacy Access Partnership will launch the nation’s first leadership training program designed to train and engage pharmacists to become champions of women’s reproductive health. The 2009 inaugural class of Pharmacy Forward: Pharmacy Leadership for Reproductive Health kicks off in Los Angeles October 2-4 highlighting National Pharmacist Month.

Pharmacy Forward fellows will be trained in key policy and advocacy areas of reproductive health, including access to hormonal contraception, STI testing and treatment, cervical cancer prevention and youth access to reproductive health services.  Fellows will also be exposed to tools and strategies to lead innovative programs and policies, as well as leverage media and research opportunities.

Dovetailing the Association of Reproductive Health Professional’s (ARHP) annual conference in Los Angeles, Pharmacy Forward is designed to prepare pharmacists to respond to the dynamic field of reproductive health at a time when the nation is grappling with a fractured healthcare system – where access is limited for many women and their families.

“Pharmacy-focused healthcare is an emerging field that continues to make great strides in preventive services like immunizations, diabetes management and smoking cessation. And as more pharmacists become interested in women’s health, this innovative leadership program will provide them with an additional skill set in support of women’s reproductive health, “ stated Sharon Landau, MPH, Director of Pharmacy Access Partnership.  

Landau says although many pharmacists have an interest in women’s health, few have been introduced to the tools and strategies to be effective women’s health advocates. She says Pharmacy Forward will enhance the pharmacist’s role as a valued member of the health care team and foster stronger collaboration between pharmacists and other health care professionals.

Pharmacy Forward was developed in collaboration with University of California, San Francisco Pharmacists Leadership Institute. For more information visit For interview requests contact Juana Rosa Cavero, Program Communications Specialist, at 213.386.1383.

July 10, 2009                      

Juana Rosa Cavero
(213) 386-1383

Statement by Sharon Landau, Director of Pharmacy Access Partnership, a Center of the Pacific Institute for Women’s Health, on Appeals Court Ruling That WA Pharmacists Must Provide All Medications, Including Emergency Contraception

(Los Angeles/ Oakland, CA) – Now that a federal appeals court has ruled that Washington State pharmacists are required to dispense Plan B emergency contraception despite personal objections, more efforts must be advanced to educate pharmacists and the public alike to the benefits of unfettered access to emergency contraception and other family planning methods.

On July 7, 2009, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in Washington State responded to a lawsuit filed by Family-owned Ralph’s Thriftway and two other pharmacists objecting to dispense EC by unanimously ruling to lift an injunction that blocked Washington State officials from penalizing pharmacists who refused to dispense any medication, including Plan B emergency contraception (EC), based on personal beliefs or biases.

Indeed, the Court’s ruling marks a victory for women’s health overall. However, it is important to recognize that this lawsuit is the work of vocal minority and that the majority of pharmacists want to and do provide women with this vital second chance to prevent unintended pregnancy.

In fact, it has been Washington State, along with California, that have been role models for the county in providing pharmacy access to EC. Long before Plan B became available over the counter to consumers age 18 and over, pharmacists in these states were voluntarily getting specially trained to dispense the medication without an advance prescription from a doctor or clinic. In a published survey conducted in collaboration with the American Pharmacists Association, Pharmacy Access Partnership demonstrated that nationally the majority of pharmacists (85%) are not only interested in providing EC but also want to improve access to other hormonal contraceptive methods.

As Don Downing, R.Ph., Clinical Professor at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy and member of Pharmacy Access Partnership’s Circle of Advisors, can attest, “Washington pharmacists have dramatically increased access to EC and will continue to serve as a safe, convenient and timely point of access for women in need of EC.”

The Pacific Institute for Women’s Health and its center, Pharmacy Access Partnership, will continue efforts to improve EC access in pharmacy settings, especially for youth who still require a prescription for EC. We are also training pharmacists nationally to become more effective advocates and leaders for reproductive healthcare access.

For more information on access to EC and other reproductive health services in pharmacies, please visit For a background on the WA pharmacy access program, please visit

Read the court’s opinion here.

June 25, 2009                      

Juana Rosa Cavero
(213) 386-1383

Statement by Belle Taylor-McGhee, President and CEO, Pacific Institute for Women’s Health, on FDA’s Approval of a Generic, Prescription-Only Version of Plan B for Women Ages 17 and Younger

“FDA approves new EC product – but age restrictions continue”

(Los Angeles/ Oakland, CA) – On June 24, 2009, the Food and Drug Administration approved a generic version of Plan B emergency contraception and made it available by prescription only to women ages 17 and under.

The generic levonorgestrel tablets 0.75 mg are made by Watson Laboratories Inc., based in Corona, CA.

Plan B, which is manufactured by Duramed, a subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, is currently available over-the-counter (OTC) to consumers ages 18 and older and remains available by prescription for women ages 17 and younger.

Although, the FDA announced on April 22, 2009, that it would allow 17-year olds to purchase Plan B OTC, Duramed must first relabel the product in order for OTC access to 17-year olds to be implemented. The generic version cannot be approved for women ages 18 and older until August 24, 2009, when Duramed’s patent on Plan B expires.

The Pacific Institute for Women’s Health, and its center Pharmacy Access Partnership, are excited that there is now an additional option for emergency contraception. However, we remain disappointed that the FDA continues to make unnecessary restrictions on young women’s access to reproductive health care products.

With an additional prescription product available, the role of pharmacists to initiate prescriptions under protocol continues to be vital – especially for young women seeking access to EC. Currently, certified pharmacists in nine states (AK, CA, HI, MA, ME, WA, VT, NH, NM) provide Plan B without a prior prescription from a doctor or clinic.

Youth access is of great importance to us and through our Youth-Friendly Pharmacy Initiative we continue to educate and promote pharmacies as a culturally-relevant access point of care for youth.

Please read the FDA press release at their website. For more information visit Please also visit and join our online social network of advocates for EC access.

May 18, 2009                      
Juana Rosa Cavero
(213) 386-1383
Read more about this program.

Pharmacy Access Partnership, a Center of the Pacific Institute for Women’s Health, Launches the First US-Based Program to Promote Youth Access in Pharmacies

(Los Angeles/Oakland, CA) – Pharmacists, health care professionals and advocates, and youth and youth-serving organizations from across California are participating in the first, U.S.-based collaboration to increase youth access to sexual and reproductive health care services in pharmacies.

The Youth-Friendly Pharmacy Initiative represents an urgent call-to-action to adequately address the sexual and reproductive health care needs of California’s youth. Coordinators say there are critical needs to address, including reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that teen pregnancies are on the rise again after a steady 15-year decline. Moreover, California has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in the country. The CDC also reports that one in four teenage girls in the U.S. has a sexually transmitted infection.

The Youth-Friendly Pharmacy Initiative is designed to improve youth access to reproductive health care services in pharmacies by increasing teens’ awareness and access to services. The program also aims to enhance pharmacies’ capacity to attract, serve and retain youth clients.

According to Belle Taylor-McGhee, President and CEO of the Pacific Institute for Women’s health, pharmacies and pharmacists represent an essential access point of care for California’s teens, and with culturally relevant training provided through the Youth-Friendly Pharmacy Initiative, they will be better equipped to respond to emerging teen health issues, including the FDA’s recent decision to allow over-the-counter access to emergency contraception to 17 year olds.

“When adolescents and teens are given good information and easy access to services, they are empowered to make good decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. We are very excited about this initiative and have been extremely encouraged by the positive response from pharmacists, medical providers and youth-serving organizations,” said Taylor-McGhee.

PIWH collaborators include the Marin County Department of Health Services, Walgreens Pharmacies, and the California Pharmacists Association. For more information regarding the Youth-Friendly Pharmacy Initiative, visit or contact Juana Rosa Cavero at

**Update: June 2009**

In order for the FDA’s April 22 decision to allow 17-year olds OTC access to Plan B, the manufacturer, Duramed – a subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceuticals, Inc. – must relabel the product to reflect the change in OTC availability to 17 year-olds.

April 22, 2009

Statement by Belle Taylor-McGhee, President and CEO, Pacific Institute for Women’s Health, on FDA’s Decision to Follow Court Ruling To Open Up Access To Plan B Emergency Contraception

“FDA Agrees To Do The Right Thing”

(Los Angeles/Oakland, CA) – The Pacific Institute for Women’s Health (PIWH) applauds the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to end the senseless delays to allow over-the-counter access to Plan B emergency contraception to 17 year olds. The FDA restricted access to consumers 18 and older two years ago despite its own scientific advisory committee’s conclusion that Plan B is safe for women of all ages.

After a federal court ordered the FDA earlier this month to rethink its earlier action, the women’s health community had hoped that the FDA would not appeal and do the right thing. Today’s FDA decision to do just that is long overdue. Now 17 year olds can get Plan B without a prior prescription. Yet we are still mindful that women under 17 must still have a prescription to get Plan B – despite lack of scientific evidence that a prior prescription is medically necessary.

Full access to all women in preventing unintended pregnancy is a goal that we will not let go. PIWH will continue to advocate for unrestricted access to Plan B for all women – regardless of age. Meanwhile, certified pharmacists in California and eight other states (AK, HI, MA, ME, WA, VT, NH, NM) continue to provide Plan B without a prior prescription from a doctor or clinic.

For more information please visit our website at

February 2, 2009

Juana Rosa Cavero
Pacific Institute for Women’s Health, 213.386.1383

National Survey Shows Pharmacists Want to Provide Birth Control and Help Prevent Pregnancies for 22 million U.S. Women

(Oakland/Los Angeles) – A national study published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association shows that the majority of U.S. pharmacists want to provide women direct access to birth control without an advance prescription from a doctor. Study authors say not only are pharmacists willing to provide direct access to birth control pills, the contraceptive patch and vaginal ring, the majority of American women say they would gladly seek these products directly from the pharmacy without having to get a prescription from a doctor or clinic.

Conducted by Pharmacy Access Partnership, a center of the Pacific Institute for Women’s Health, and in collaboration with the American Pharmacists Association, the study counters claims that most pharmacists have a moral objection to providing contraceptives. In fact, the research reveals that not only are the majority of pharmacists (85%) interested in providing birth control directly to women, nearly all (98%) view this as an important health care issue.

Currently, the only hormonal contraceptive option available to women without a prescription is emergency contraception and it is restricted to women over 18 years of age. All other hormonal contraceptives require a medical prescription. Yet, only nine states have a pharmacy access model for emergency contraception where specially trained pharmacists can provide the product without a doctor’s prescription.

According to the study’s author, Sharon Landau, MPH, Director of Pharmacy Access Partnership, these harsh economic times require that we all think strategically about how to make family planning services and products more accessible and affordable to all women. “If more states implement pharmacy access programs to include other birth control options, the U.S. could serve between 17-22 million women nationwide and potentially prevent half a million unintended pregnancies each year,” said Landau.

Landau highlights that England just embarked on a pilot pharmacy access program for hormonal birth control methods. And Washington State also implemented a pharmacy access demonstration program, which showed patient satisfaction with pharmacists’ services and the convenience pharmacies offer. One in five U.S. states has a regulatory environment that currently allows for similar pharmacy access programs.  Pharmacy Access Partnership and the Pacific Institute for Women’s Health are exploring implementing a similar pilot in California.

View the full study, titled “Pharmacist interest in and attitudes towards direct pharmacy access to hormonal contraception in the United States”

Learn more about Pharmacy Access to Hormonal Contraceptives.



December 2007
Pharmacy Today Profiles Pharmacy Access Partnership. Read more

December 2007
Pharmacy Access Partnership Submits Comment to FDA on 3rd, Behind-the-Counter Class of Drugs. Read more

August 2007
Critical Legislation Introduced to Protect Community Pharmacies, Statement from Belle Taylor-McGhee. Read more

July 10, 2007
Client Confidentiality Cards Distributed Across California, Soon Nationwide. Read more

June 1, 2007
Pharmacy Access Partnership and the Pacific Institute for Women’s Health are pleased to introduce the Client Confidentiality Card, an innovative new tool to facilitate discreet communication between pharmacy patrons and pharmacists. Women of any age can use the C-Card to request Plan B non-verbally in a crowded pharmacy.
Learn more about the Client Confidentiality Card (PDF-84KB)
Download a copy of the Client Confidentiality Card (PDF-1.1MB)
Place an order for Client Confidentiality Cards (each organization may order up to 100 cards for a charge of $10 for shipping and handling)

May 2007
Pharmacy Access Partnership Paper on Plan B OTC in Journal of Nursing Law. Read more

May 24,2007
Pharmacy Today promotes EC pharmacy access, says Plan B OTC is “not a total solution.” Read more

May 23, 2007
Pharmacy Access Partnership to Host Town Hall Meeting: “Getting EC in LA.” Invitation (PDF-44KB) and Directions (PDF-100KB).



November 14, 2006
At event to launch Plan B OTC, ED Belle Taylor-McGhee Affirms Commitment to Pharmacist Training, Teen Access. Read more

October 4, 2006
During Pharmacists’ Month, Pharmacy Access Partnership Promotes Growing Trend in Pharmacy-Focused Care. (PDF-32K)

August 24, 2006
ED Belle Taylor-McGhee Says Plan B OTC Access is Long-Overdue Victory. (PDF-96K)

August 1, 2006
Pharmacy Access Partnership Executive Director Belle Taylor-McGhee Says Von Eschenbach Failed to Boost Confidence in FDA During Senate Hearing (PDF-24K)

July 6, 2006
First-Ever California EC Network Launched (PDF-16K)

March 23, 2006
Pharmacy Access Partnership’s BUYBC Day Van Visits San Francisco Bay Area Pharmacies (PDF-40K)

March 1, 2006
Pharmacy Access Partnership launches Re-Granting Program in seven states



November 29, 2005
Dr. Susan Wood Addresses Pharmacy Access Partnership Gala Event (PDF-48K)

November 15, 2005
In response to GAO Report, Pharmacy Access Partnership demands accountability, action from FDA (PDF-40K)

November 3, 2005
House introduces bill to make EC OTC if FDA doesn’t decide on Plan B application

August 31, 2005
FDA Loses More Credibility with Resignation of Key Official. (PDF-68K)

August 26, 2005
FDA stalls again on decision to increase access to emergency contraception.
FDA Statement (PDF-52K)
Barr Press Release (PDF-24K)
Pharmacy Access Partnership Press Release (PDF-68K)

January 21, 2005
FDA Stalls Again on Decision to Increase Access to Emergency Contraception (PDF-68K)



December 2, 2004
National Survey Reveals Strong and Diverse Support for Pharmacy Access to Birth Control throughout U.S. (PDF-272K)

May 6, 2004
Pharmacy Access Partnership Shocked by FDA’s Decision (PDF-280)