FDA approval requested for over-the-counter birth control pills

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Posted at 5:31 PM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 19:52:29-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In the future, women might be able to walk into a pharmacy in Tennessee and buy birth control pills without a prescription. HRA Pharma is requesting FDA approval for Opill to be over-the-counter.

Opill is known as a non-estrogen birth control pill. In some countries, you don’t need a prescription for birth control, but it’s different in the United States.

HRA Pharma noted there are obstacles in getting birth control. A company spokesperson said their push to make it over-the-counter is supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. HRA Pharma emailed a statement:

"Nearly one-third of adult U.S. women who have ever tried to obtain a prescription or refill for contraceptive pill, patch, or ring reported difficulties doing so. For many, a birth control pill may be the best option for them but requiring a prescription is an unnecessary obstacle that can put it out of reach. Moving a safe and effective prescription birth control pill to OTC will help even more women and people access contraception without facing unnecessary barriers."

Sarah Uroza is an Associate Professor at Lipscomb University and a member of the Tennessee Pharmacists Association.

"I think it’s great for them to have more access to those products. I am nervous about it being completely over-the-counter because birth control has a lot of side effects,” Uroza said. “There are a lot of issues patients can have — like blood clots, bleeding issues, things like that — that can be problematic for patients."

Uroza wonders: if it's approved, will other companies will follow suit?

"There’s so many birth control pills, I actually teach women's health to some students, and they get very overwhelmed when there’s eight different pages of medications, and so I think that’s another thing we need to look at, is it’s not a one size fits all," Uroza said.

Now that abortions have been banned in Tennessee, some women are looking into other options.

In Antioch at Pruitt's Pharmacy, Shawn Pruitt said it's a good way to stop unplanned pregnancies.

"So, I think by increasing access to oral contraceptives, it may help stem the tide in terms of unwanted pregnancies," Pruitt said.

However, he said some women might have to pay out of pocket for over-the-counter birth control.

"Many of their oral contraceptives are covered by their third party insurances, so once it becomes over the counter, it’s no longer eligible to be covered by their insurance companies," Pruitt said.

It could be months before the FDA decides what will happen.