If the pill didn’t require a prescription, women could “pick it up in the middle of the night if they run out,” she said. “It removes those types of barriers.”
Tuesday, the FDA said it was willing to meet with any company interested in making the pill nonprescription, to discuss what if any studies would be needed.
Then there’s the price question. The Obama administration’s new health care law requires FDA-approved contraceptives to be available without copays for women enrolled in most workplace health plans.
If the pill were sold without a prescription, it wouldn’t be covered under that provision, just as condoms aren’t, said Health and Human Services spokesman Tait Sye.
ACOG’s opinion, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, says any move toward making the pill nonprescription should address that cost issue. Not all women are eligible for the free birth control provision, it noted, citing a recent survey that found young women and the uninsured pay an average of $16 per month’s supply.
The doctors group made clear that:
—Birth control pills are very safe. Blood clots, the main serious side effect, happen very rarely, and are a bigger threat during pregnancy and right after giving birth.
—Women can easily tell if they have risk factors, such as smoking or having a previous clot, and should avoid the pill.
—Other over-the-counter drugs are sold despite rare but serious side effects, such as stomach bleeding from aspirin and liver damage from acetaminophen.
—And there’s no need for a Pap smear or pelvic exam before using birth control pills. But women should be told to continue getting check-ups as needed, or if they’d like to discuss other forms of birth control such as implantable contraceptives that do require a physician’s involvement.