The United States achieved a significant milestone in reproductive health as the FDA granted approval for the country’s first over-the-counter birth control pill.
According to a report by the Associated Press on Thursday, July 13, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized the sale of Opill, a once-daily birth control pill, without a prescription. It will be available in pharmacies and online retailers, with no age restrictions. The manufacturing company, Perrigo, plans to begin shipping the medication early next year.
This decision followed the unanimous support from FDA advisers, who voted in favor of making Opill accessible over the counter on Wednesday, May 10. After a two-day meeting, the advisory panel concluded that consumers could safely and effectively use the pill without a prescription, with all 17 advisers voting in favor and none abstaining or voting against.
Dr. Katalin Roth from the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences expressed the importance of prioritizing women’s reproductive choices, stating, “The risks of unintended pregnancy for women outweigh any concerns we discussed regarding making this pill available over the counter. The history of women’s contraception is a struggle for women’s control over their reproductive health, and we should trust women.”
Opill, as reported by the Associated Press, is a progestin-only birth control pill taken daily. This form of contraceptive is known to have fewer side effects and health risks compared to medications that combine progestin with estrogen.
While the battle for reproductive rights continues amidst efforts to restrict women’s access to healthcare, recent victories have been achieved. In April 2023, the Supreme Court temporarily halted a ban on the leading abortion drug, Mifepristone, following a ruling from a Texas judge appointed by the Trump administration that sought to revoke its FDA approval.
In March 2022, 59 members of Congress wrote a letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf emphasizing the significance of over-the-counter contraception as a crucial aspect of reproductive health, rights, and justice. These developments highlight the ongoing progress in this important area.