(CTN NEWS) – In a groundbreaking decision, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval on Thursday for Opill, the first nonprescription birth control pill to be available over-the-counter in the United States.
Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, expressed her excitement, stating, “Today’s approval marks the first time a nonprescription daily oral contraceptive will be an available option for millions of people in the United States.
When used as directed, daily oral contraception is safe and is expected to be more effective than currently available nonprescription contraceptive methods in preventing unintended pregnancy.”
This milestone provides a significant advancement in reproductive healthcare, granting greater accessibility and convenience to individuals seeking reliable contraception.
The availability of an over-the-counter birth control pill is expected to empower more people to take control of their reproductive health and reduce the risk of unintended pregnancies.
With this landmark approval, the FDA recognizes the safety and efficacy of daily oral contraception when used correctly.
It is a momentous step forward, providing a new avenue for individuals to exercise their reproductive autonomy and make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive well-being.
Opill: The First Progestin-Only Birth Control Pill Goes Over-the-Counter
The birth control pill Opill, known as a “mini-pill” due to its use of the hormone progestin alone, has received a monumental approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be available over-the-counter.
The manufacturer, Perrigo, hailed this decision as a “milestone” and a “giant leap for women’s empowerment,” recognizing the significance of increased accessibility to contraception.
Frederique Welgryn, Perrigo’s global vice president for women’s health, expressed enthusiasm, stating, “Today’s approval is a groundbreaking expansion for women’s health in the U.S. and a significant milestone towards addressing a key unmet need for contraceptive access.”
Opill is set to hit store shelves as an over-the-counter option in early 2024, providing a more convenient and readily available choice for individuals seeking reliable birth control.
Perrigo has committed to ensuring the affordability and accessibility of Opill, with the suggested retail price to be communicated in the coming months.
Advocates for over-the-counter birth control pills, such as Kelly Blanchard from Ibis Reproductive Health, emphasized the importance of insurance coverage for Opill.
They stressed the need for regulatory changes at the state and federal levels to ensure that this accessible method of contraception can be covered without cost-sharing.
Pressure from lawmakers and healthcare providers, as well as a recent executive order from President Joe Biden, has pushed the FDA to make Opill available over-the-counter.
The order directed relevant departments to explore actions to enhance access to affordable over-the-counter contraception and encourage collaboration among pharmacies, employers, and insurers.
Addressing the potential impact on unintended pregnancies, the FDA highlighted the significance of Opill’s nonprescription availability.
With almost half of the 6.1 million pregnancies in the US each year being unintended, expanding access to oral contraceptives without the need for healthcare provider visits can reduce barriers and help lower the number of unintended pregnancies and associated negative health outcomes.
The approval of Opill as an over-the-counter option marks a transformative step towards improving contraceptive access and empowering individuals to make informed choices about their reproductive health.
Study Shows Barriers to Reproductive Health Care Increase, Highlighting the Importance of Opill’s Over-the-Counter Approval
Recent research reveals a concerning trend indicating increased challenges for women in accessing comprehensive reproductive health care services, including routine screenings and birth control options, in recent years.
The study found that approximately 45% of women encountered at least one barrier to reproductive health care services in 2021, marking a 10% rise from 2017.
Furthermore, nearly 19% reported facing three or more barriers in 2021, up from 16% in 2017.
During the briefing on Thursday, Ann Marie Benitez from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice emphasized that Opill offers a means for individuals to reclaim their bodily autonomy, particularly among communities facing various barriers to healthcare.
She highlighted that this development provides another avenue for accessing care on their terms and when needed.
In May, a group of advisers to the FDA recommended the approval of Opill for over-the-counter use, recognizing its safety and efficacy.
Dr. Verda Hicks, President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Dr. Christopher Zahn, CEO of the organization, affirmed the pill’s safety in a statement.
They emphasized the minimal risk and few contraindications associated with progestin-only contraception, stating that patients are trusted to make informed decisions regarding hormonal contraception.
To ensure effectiveness, Opill needs to be taken at the same time every day. However, the FDA advises against its use by individuals who have or previously had breast cancer.
Common Side Effects of Opill: What to Expect
The FDA also highlights some common side effects of Opill, including irregular bleeding, headaches, dizziness, nausea, increased appetite, abdominal pain, cramps, or bloating.
Amidst increasing barriers to reproductive health care, the availability of Opill as an over-the-counter option serves as a significant step towards providing individuals with greater control over their reproductive choices and addressing the challenges faced in accessing comprehensive care.
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