Saturday, December 1, 2012

Oral Contraceptives Over-The-Counter?

A committee of the prestigious American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) issued a recommendation recently that oral contraceptives be made available over-the-counter (OTC). Currently, oral contraceptives are available only by prescription.

Some obstetricians and gynecologists benefit financially from the current prescription-only policy. Nevertheless, ACOG is advocating for OTC availability because it believes that the increased availability of oral contraceptives would go a long way toward reducing the high incidence of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The economic and social costs of unwanted pregnancies include costs for health care; costs associated with social welfare support for poor women and their infants; even the social costs of higher levels of domestic violence in families with unwanted children. According to ACOG, the added risks if oral contraceptives were available OTC would be minimal.

ACOG can only recommend, however. The FDA would have to approve the OTC sales of oral contraceptives, and so far, oral contraceptive manufacturers have not even applied for such approval. Perhaps with this recommendation they’ll be temped to do so.

Even if OTC sales of oral contraceptives are eventually approved, an age restriction could still apply, as it does for the “morning-after” pill (You must be 17 or older to purchase the morning-after pill over-the-counter.)

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