U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisers will meet this spring to discuss allowing the over-the-counter sale of Opill, a daily birth control pill.
As NBC News reported, Opill is a progestin-only medication, or mini pill, manufactured by the French drug company HRA Pharma. The drug was approved for pregnancy prevention by the FDA in 1973, but it’s currently only available with a doctor’s prescription. If the FDA green-lights Opill for sale without a prescription, it would become the U.S.’s first OTC daily contraceptive pill — and greatly expand access to birth control nationwide. (Finally, some hopeful reproductive health news!)
In a 2018 report, the American Medical Association called for birth control pills to be sold OTC. This would remove barriers for people who are uninsured, underinsured, or otherwise unable to get a prescription from a healthcare provider.
Other major medical associations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Family Physicians, have echoed this stance.
Oral contraceptive drugs like Opill are typically taken daily, around the same time each day. Other forms of birth control include non-hormonal pills, gels, shots, patches, and IUDs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 45 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. The agency also estimates that 60 percent of Americans who can get pregnant have an “ongoing or potential need” for contraceptive services.
Given the tenuous state of abortion access in the U.S., the stakes of unplanned pregnancy are higher than ever. Last June, Roe v. Wade — the landmark Supreme Court ruling that safeguarded abortion access nationwide for nearly 50 years — was overturned. States now have the power to ban or severely restrict abortions. According to Axios, 17 already have.
In the wake of Roe‘s demise, a JAMA study from 2022 found that one-third of Americans who can get pregnant now have to travel more than an hour away to reach their nearest abortion provider.
More recently, abortion advocates sounded the alarm about a Texas lawsuit surrounding mifepristone, one of two drugs prescribed for medication abortions in the U.S. The suit’s plaintiffs want the FDA to revoke its longstanding approval of the drug (which would be completely unprecedented, for the record). If the case moves forward, it could jeopardize access to mifepristone everywhere, including pro-choice states.
Before you go, check out these powerful quotes from celebrities who shared their abortion stories:
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