The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

November 21, 2012

Birth control boom?

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

The group didn’t address teen use of contraception. Despite protests from reproductive health specialists, current U.S. policy requires girls younger than 17 to produce a prescription for the morning-after pill, meaning pharmacists must check customers’ ages. Presumably regular birth control pills would be treated the same way.

Prescription-only oral contraceptives have long been the rule in the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Australia and a few other places, but many countries don’t require a prescription.

Switching isn’t a new idea. In Washington state a few years ago, a pilot project concluded that pharmacists successfully supplied women with a variety of hormonal contraceptives, including birth control pills, without a doctor’s involvement. The question was how to pay for it.

Some pharmacies in parts of London have a similar project under way, and a recent report from that country’s health officials concluded the program is working well enough that it should be expanded.

And in El Paso, Texas, researchers studied 500 women who regularly crossed the border into Mexico to buy birth control pills, where some U.S. brands sell over the counter for a few dollars a pack. Over nine months, the women who bought in Mexico stuck with their contraception better than another 500 women who received the pill from public clinics in El Paso, possibly because the clinic users had to wait for appointments, said Dr. Dan Grossman of the University of California, San Francisco, and the nonprofit research group Ibis Reproductive Health.

“Being able to easily get the pill when you need it makes a difference,” he said.

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