Advisers for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have voted in favor of making Opill, a daily birth control pill, available for over-the-counter sale.
As CNN reported, two advisory panels for the agency voted unanimously to back the drug. The FDA isn’t obligated to follow advisers’ recommendations, but it usually does. If Opill is formally approved for OTC sale this summer, it will become the first daily contraceptive pill of its kind available for purchase in the U.S. without a doctor’s prescription. That could go a long way in eliminating barriers for people who need birth control but are uninsured or unable to see a doctor.
In a statement, Perrigo, Opill’s manufacturer, called the vote a “groundbreaking” decision for reproductive rights in America.
“Perrigo is proud to lead the way in making contraception more accessible to women in the U.S.,” said Murray Kessler, the drug company’s president and CEO. “We are motivated by the millions of people who need easy access to safe and effective contraception.”
The FDA’s vote comes at a tenuous time for abortion access in America.
Access to birth control is more vital than ever, especially for people who live in states with hostile abortion laws.
Last summer, Roe v. Wade — the landmark Supreme Court ruling that safeguarded access to abortions nationwide for nearly 50 years — was reversed. States are now able to ban or restrict abortions, and many already have.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 45 percent of all U.S. pregnancies are unintended. That’s why FDA advisers voted to move forward with making Opill available OTC. There are some concerns about people using the pill incorrectly, but ultimately, experts believe the pros of making it more accessible outweigh the cons.
Kate Curtis, an FDA adviser who works for the CDC, told CNN that she voted yes because Opill “has the potential to have a huge positive public health impact.”
What is Opill?
Opill is a mini-pill, meaning it only uses the hormone progestin. It was approved by the FDA for pregnancy prevention in 1973 and has been used safely ever since. Like most hormonal birth control pills, it is taken daily at roughly the same time each day.
Daily birth control pills are just one form of contraception, and since they involve hormones, they are sometimes associated with less-than-desirable side effects. Non-hormonal options for pregnacy prevention include condoms, spermicidal gel, or copper IUDs.
Unsure which type of birth control is best for you? Talk to your healthcare provider, who can help you make the decision.
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