Doctors propose making birth control pills over the counter

What do doctors know about changing the birth control pill from prescription to over the counter?

It’s probably more sensible to let the decision be made by extreme religious people or anti-science members of Congress, like Marco The-Earth’s-Age-Is “One of the great mysteries” Rubio, who prefer moving the US into the Dark Ages.

NBC News:

birth control pills

Pills via Shutterstock

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said today that increasing women’s access to birth control in this way could reduce the rate of unplanned pregnancies in the United States, which has not changed in the last 20 years. About half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended.

Although selling birth control pills over-the-counter (OTC) comes with risks — like any drug, the pill has potential side effects, and there are concerns it would be used by women who should not take the drug — these are outweighed by the benefits, the ACOG says.

The pill’s availability would not change overnight. First, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would require drug companies to conduct studies proving the pill is safe for OTC use, said Claire Brindis, a reproductive health researcher at the University of California, San Francisco. For instance, the companies would need to prove that women who hadn’t consulted with a doctor do indeed understand the medication’s side effects and the circumstances under which they should not take it, Brindis said.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/judith.raley Judith Raley

    I don’t personally have those ads. You might try changing your browser to get rid of them. It is a pain. Good luck

  • http://www.facebook.com/judith.raley Judith Raley

    Yes, you are right. Drug companies who put OTC rather than generic hold those high prices for the OTC drugs. It helps the Drug companies big time and after all, Congress owes these companies for thier $. In my opinion, women are beginning to lose more and more bennies as it is easier to take from them as the rules are made by MEN. I don’t see Social Security stop paying for penile implants for men!

  • UncleBucky

    OH, I agree. I am taking the extreme notion. Rather, my big deal was the pharmacists skating on responsibility and having to be “forced” to sell birth control drugs. I think that a few fundies/thumpers are wagging the entire pharmacy issue. But you’re certainly right about the containers. I still wouldn’t leave viagra around, tho. ;O)

  • ezpz

    Bingo!

  • ezpz

    Actually, I think the price will likely go up because they know that those who use them will buy them regardless of cost.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1298856825 Joanne Equality Robrahn

    This solution would solve SO many problems! No more worrying about Christians trying to limit access to the pill, or preventing access!

  • Dumbo

    Good and bad news about that.

    If they make it OTC, it will no longer be paid for by most healthcare plans. On the other hand, the price will probably go down some.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HEJ7Y2VR5QUFZGY42LACWDVBJI lisa

    I disagree with this change. I have always had to have a yearly exam to get my birth control renewed for another year and I fear that many women will put off the exam if they can purchase birth control over counter. Plus the price would probably be higher than what you pay now. This is insurance companies trying to wriggle out of paying for birth control and women will end up paying more for their birth control. Remember when Clariton was prescription, I paid 10 dollars now I pay $40.00 over the counter.

  • s

    Is it my comp[uter that is having the ads over lap text of the posts or is everyone having this problem. I totally understand that AmericaBolg needs to pay their bills and needs the income, but the new format with ads everywhere is now looking more like “AmericaBlog Ads” Inc.

  • Naja pallida

    If it did happen, it would definitely require a large-scale public education campaign. Education that I think even most doctors tend to gloss over when prescribing birth control.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    You’re right, and this is of course the underlying message behind the assertions that there’s any moral issue whatsoever with contraceptive medication.

    There are people out there, the hyper-religious conservatives, who do not want it to be available to anybody. The coverage and conscience exceptions are nothing but misdirection.

  • Naja pallida

    This should have happened 20 years ago.

    Sadly, the people that don’t want insurance companies to cover birth control (you know, those people who seem to think insurance premiums are “free”) don’t want them not to cover it in the name of some kind of fiscal savings, they just don’t want it to be available at all. Which means they will likely fight tooth and nail to make this as difficult as possible. Assuming the FDA even has the courage to attempt the move, which I find unlikely.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    There are aspects to this proposal which are intriguing, possibly compelling, but I foresee a number of possible issues. First of all, there’s not just one kind of contraceptive medication; it comes in dozens of different formulations and strengths. Are they talking about Prem-Pro (Premarin and Provera)? If so, one of the side-effects warnings they’ll need to mention is that for some women — such as myself — Provera can trigger episodes of deep depression. And the Premarin part, besides having ethical concerns (they make it out of the urine of pregnant mare horses), didn’t really seem to do the job.

    So I switched to Estradiol & natural Progesterone, and with my doctor’s help was able to figure out the appropriate dosages, for the time I needed ‘em. (I’m a little past the age now…)

    Anyway, that’s my issue with this: There is no “The Pill.” And not all women respond favorably to the most commonly prescribed version. What I’d rather see? Loosened restrictions on the duration of a given prescription and fewer needed refills over time.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    The issues you raise are the same whether it’s OTC or prescription medication.

    I would suggest that childproof containers pretty much solves the problem.

  • UncleBucky

    I heard this too, and my first thought was that “the thumper/fundie pharmacist will not have to serve the customer, which saves the company from litigation, blah blah blah.”

    OK, so i would be able to buy birth control pills (hormone based, right?) like aspirins and leave them around accidentally so someone should NOT touch them imbibes them? Who is responsible then? Well, I know the answer, me, but still, this is the pharmacy and their cronies escaping from responsibility, litigation and REGULATION. HOO boy.

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