Contraceptive Accessibility is Health Care!
Birth control should be equally accessible regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or gender identity. The availability of affordable and effective birth control is critical for successful family planning and maintaining overall health. However, many barriers prevent women from obtaining contraceptives.
According to an American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee Opinion released in 2015 and reaffirmed in 2022, women in the U.S. face the following barriers:
Lack of knowledge, misperceptions about the safety of contraceptive methods
Restrictive legal and legislative climate
Cost and insurance coverage
Objection and refusal to fill contraceptive prescriptions, provide medication, or care at hospitals
Unnecessary medical practices
Institutional and payment barriers for appropriate payment for clinician services and providing reimbursement for contraceptive devices
Health care inequities
Limited access to birth control is a significant factor contributing to unintended pregnancies. There is evidence that unintended pregnancies lead to a reduced likelihood to receive prenatal care and an increased risk of preterm delivery. Making birth control more easily available can help improve the health outcomes for mothers and infants and gives people more control over their reproductive health.
While affordability and insurance coverage are still in question, the approval of the newly announced Opill in the U.S. market may prove to be a step toward improved contraceptive accessibility.
What is Opill?
On Jul 13, 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Opill, the first-ever hormonal birth control pill available over-the-counter (OTC) in the United States. It does not require a doctor's prescription and does not have age restrictions. Opill is a daily oral hormonal contraceptive pill used to prevent unintended pregnancy. It is a progestin-only pill which means that it has only one hormone, progestin. Opill is 98% effective when taken at the same time each day.
How much does it cost?
The Opill manufacturer has not announced the price yet. OTC medications are typically more affordable than prescription medications. However, over-the-counter drugs and medication are typically not covered by insurance. Frederique Welgryn, Opill manufacturer Perrigo's global vice president of women's health shared the company is hoping to change that approach by insurers in the future.
Where is it available?
The Opill will be available in pharmacies, grocery stores, and other locations that sell contraception options similar to Plan B. When available, Opill’s label instructions will support safe and effective use.
When is it available?
The Opill does not have an exact launch date yet but is expected to be released in early 2024.
Stay up to date with the latest information about the Opill here.
At BWPC, we believe in bodily autonomy and reproductive rights for all women and individuals with a uterus. Our role is to offer evidence-based education and respect people's choices regarding their own bodies and reproductive health.
Aungst, PharmD, C. (n.d.). 7 Things to Know About Opill, the First FDA-Approved OTC Birth Control Pill. GoodRx Health. https://www.goodrx.com/conditions/birth-control/fda-approves-opill-otc
Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women. (2015). Access to Contraception. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2015/01/access-to-contraception
Committee on Healthcare for Underserved Women. (2015). Committee Opinion No. 615 - Access to Contraception. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 125(1), 250–255. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.aog.0000459866.14114.33
Orr, S. T., Miller, C. A., James, S. A., & Babones, S. (2000). Unintended pregnancy and preterm birth. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 14(4), 309–313. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-3016.2000.00289.x
Perrigo Company PLC. (n.d.). Perrigo Announces U.S. FDA Approval for Opill® OTC Daily Oral Contraceptive. Www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved July 24, 2023, from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/perrigo-announces-us-fda-approval-for-opill-otc-daily-oral-contraceptive-301876638.html
Perrigo Announces U.S. FDA Approval for Opill® OTC Daily Oral Contraceptive. Retrieved Jul 27, 2023 from https://investor.perrigo.com/2023-07-13-Perrigo-Announces-U-S-FDA-Approval-for-Opill-R-OTC-Daily-Oral-Contraceptive#:~:text=Press%20Releases&text=DUBLIN%2C%20July%2013%2C%202023%20%2F,OTC)%20use%20for%20all%20ages.
ACOG. Progestin-Only Hormonal Birth Control: Pill and Injection. www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/progestin-only-hormonal-birth-control-pill-and-injection. Accessed 27 July 2023.
The Associated Press. (2023, July 13). Over-the-counter birth control pill Opill approved by FDA - CBS Los Angeles. CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/losangeles/news/over-the-counter-birth-control-pill-approved-by-fda/#:~:text=The%20Food%20and%20Drug%20Administration%20said%20Thursday%20it
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2023a, July 13). FDA Approves First Nonprescription Daily Oral Contraceptive. FDA. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-nonprescription-daily-oral-contraceptive
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2023b, July 14). Opill (0.075mg Oral Norgestrel Tablet) Information. FDA. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/opill-0075mg-oral-norgestrel-tablet-information