FDA Considers Over-The-Counter Birth Control Pills

The Food and Drug Administration is considering expanding the list of drugs that can be bought without a prescription and among the drugs could come under consideration: birth control pills.

At a hearing last week the agency discussed whether certain types of drugs that treat cholesterol, asthma, migraines should be sold over-the-counter, a regulatory change designed to lower costs and ease access to medications for those battling chronic ailments.

According to Eleanor Schwarz, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, women can determine whether they should use oral contraceptives and may be better off not seeing a physician. “It has been a politically charged topic,” said Schwarz, who addressed the FDA. “When we keep it within the purely health-and-science realm, we understand it saves people’s lives. All available contraceptives are much safer for women’s health than an undesired pregnancy.”

Schwarz led a team at the University of Pittsburgh that created a computer kiosk to help women determine if they should take birth-control pills or whether they smoked, had migraines with an aura or other conditions that may make taking the pills inadvisable.

The FDA has not taken a position on over-the-counter contraceptives on this particular issue but did last year approve Plan B as the first unrestricted over-the-counter emergency contraceptive. That decision was ultimately blocked by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. The decision was the first time HHS overrode an FDA determination.

Over-the-counter medicines save the U.S. health-care system $102 billion a year, and given the widespread use of prescription birth control pills, over the counter availability would really be remarkable.

Of course, making contraception available over-the-counter also alleviates the “religious liberty” concerns the right has raised about insurance covering contraception. Seems like a win-win to me.

Related Stories:

On The Pill? Arizona GOP Think That Should Cost You Your Job

Idaho Republicans Push For No Insurance Coverage For Contraception

Photo from nateOne via flickr.

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Loo Samantha
Loo sam3 years ago

wow !!

diana rojek
diana r.3 years ago

Wow am I ever on the fence on this one!!! Yes I think having birth control over the counter is a great idea....then I think, but what about side effects, and are women going to be warned about smoking with BC possibly causing blood clots.Of course the insurance companies would love for them to go OTC, then it comes out of our pockets instead of theirs. I do know that we have to come up with somethig better than what we are doing now!!!

Sandra L.
Sandra L.3 years ago

Finding just the right balance of hormones is specific to each woman and really should be done under a Dr's supervision. There is already too much 'self-medicating' being done by those who are not knowledgeable enough to be making the best or safest choices.

Frances C.
Frances C.3 years ago

someone on this site thinks she is living in the nineteeth century. Ms J. This is 2012.

Dan B.
Dan Brook3 years ago

good idea

Kyle N.
Kyle N.3 years ago

Birth Control should be available over the counter. For any place that refuses to sell it should have all it's healthcare items pulled. It is a right for everyone to have birth control for either health reasons and or planned parenthood or emergency contraceptive. Doesn't matter if married or not married but living together, it is a choice. Most marriages that end are because they find out they can't stand to live together after getting married after not living together.

Karen H.
Karen H.3 years ago

How would you know whether the over-the-counter birth control is the right dosage for you? If you get pregnant while using it, can you sue? Current prescription only birth control has some very bad side effects; without a doctor, who's going to monitor a woman's health? The pharmacist?

As far as "Teach our children right and they will remain virgins until their wedding night, as they should..." I can tell you some very sad stories about women who wanted to remain virgins until their wedding night. One young lady wanted to wait & was pressured by her virginal fiance, who wanted sex. They got married sooner than planned, & once he got what he wanted, he began "experimenting" with other women, including seducing the underage daughter of their minister. Yeah, he was considered a "good Christian". Both wife & minister's daughter were shunned by everyone in the church because it was their fault.

Men get what they want & women pay the price. And it's always the woman's fault.

Juanita G.
Juanita Ricard3 years ago

Birth control should only be administered by a person's doctor. Personally I believe if your heart is right with God, you will only have babies when He says so. The Bible says that children are a gift and blessing from God and they are a reward. So treat them accordingly. So if everyone would obey our Heavenly Father the way they should, there would be no need for birth control made by man. Nor would there be any poverty, etc. the things that trouble this world. Definitely birth control should not be sold over the counter nor should it be available to children without parents and doctors permission. Teach our children right and they will remain virgins until their wedding night, as they should. Set a bad example and you cause chaos. Parents, it is your responsibility to teach your children right. And if you live and teach right, the children will listen. They want good examples and good discipline.

Lynne Brittany
Lynne B.3 years ago

Birth control drugs should not be available over the counter. There are too many health risk factors involved. They should be free with a prescription from your doctor as they are here in the UK.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons3 years ago

great idea. make them OC.