Because Paris-based drugmaker HRA Pharma has submitted an application to the FDA for approval of Opill, which has been available only by prescription since 1973, over-the-counter birth control may soon be offered at U.S. pharmacies.
By 2023, Opill, the first ever daily birth control pill to be sold in pharmacies in the United States, may be widely accessible.
In 1960, oral contraceptives were made obtainable with a prescription.
After the Supreme Court overturned the precedent-setting ruling Roe v. Wade in 2022, abortion rights and contraceptives have become contentious issues. This is why HRA Pharma is taking this action.
According to Frederique Welgryn, Chief Strategic Operations and Innovation Officer at HRA Pharma, “moving a safe and effective prescription birth control pill to [over the counter] will help even more women and people access contraception without facing needless barriers.”
Welgryn called the timing of the FDA approval for Opill “a really sad coincidence” in an interview with the New York Times.
Every indication points to the birth control right being a subject of numerous laws and legal disputes. President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Friday to help safeguard Americans’ access to contraception, though some have criticized the order for not going far enough.
Every year, there are about 6.1 million unintended pregnancies in the United States. A third or more of those who attempt to obtain a prescription for pills, patches, or rings for contraception report having trouble doing so.
Removing the need for a prescription “would increase access to a contraceptive method that is well tolerated and noticeably more effective at preventing pregnancy than all current methods [available] [over the counter],” according to research.
No matter how effective, comprehensive and accessible abortion and reproductive care cannot be substituted for birth control.
Welgryn told the Times that “birth control is not a solution for abortion access.”
Over-the-counter birth control pills are supported by numerous significant medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
No medication is risk-free, so experts advise continuing doctor visits and consultations before using any form of birth control, whether or not a prescription is required. Another issue could be that because insurance companies are not required by law to cover over-the-counter birth control, its price could rise.