Sunday, March 25, 2012

OTC oral contraceptives in the U.S?

Combined birth control pills dial pack

Reproductive Health Advocates Urge FDA To Allow Nonprescription Access to Birth Control Pills

March 23, 2012 — Women's health advocates at an FDA hearing on Friday will ask agency officials to include oral contraceptives among the medications they are considering for nonprescription access, Bloomberg reports.

The two-day public hearing, which began Thursday, aims to assess whether certain prescription medications can be safely moved to nonprescription status. The changes are intended to reduce costs and increase access to the drugs.

In a statement released last month, FDA focused on four types of drugs related to chronic conditions: asthma, blood pressure, cholesterol and migraine treatments. According to Bloomberg, FDA has not taken a public position on nonprescription access to birth control pills.

Eleanor Schwarz, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, said that although contraception "has been a politically charged topic," when the issue is considered "within the purely health-and-science realm, we understand it saves people's lives." She added, "All available contraceptives are much safer for women's health than an undesired pregnancy." Schwarz led a research team that tested computerized kiosks to help a woman determine whether she should take birth control pills by assessing factors that might make the pills inadvisable, such as smoking or severe migraines. "This program identifies women who can safely use hormonal contraception as well, or better than, most doctors," Schwarz said (Edney, Bloomberg, 3/23).

Personal comment: I understand wanting to make access easier for women who need and can safely use hormonal birth control. However given the number of law suits against pharmaceutical companies by women who claim to have had serious reactions from using hormonal contraceptives I think it would be a terrible idea to allow sale of oral contraceptives over the counter and go to self-screening rather than screening of patients that is supposed to be performed by a doctor to find medical conditions that would make hormonal contraceptives a bad choice before writing her an Rx for them.

1 comment:

  1. I also think it's not a good idea to think about putting BCPs OTC, at least not this year with all the election-year posturing of the GOP, especially men like Rick Santorum and Rush Limbaugh.


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I'm a classically trained dancer and SAB grad. A Dance Captain and go-to girl overseeing high-roller entertainment for a major casino/resort