In the U.S., women still need a prescription to get birth control pills, a drug that has been around since the 1960s.
Everyone loves the party game/icebreaker “two truths and a lie.”
Can you identify which of the following is NOT true about contraceptives:
A. Like birth control (or Plan A), emergency contraception (also known as Plan B) also requires a prescription.
B. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists favors making birth control pills available over the counter.
C. Making birth control available over the counter would lower the price of the drug.
Let’s take these statements one at a time:
A. FALSE! Unlike birth control (or Plan A), emergency contraception like ‘Plan B’ does NOT require a prescription. Ironically, this means that routine birth control pills are more difficult for women to obtain than emergency contraception pills.
B. TRUE! The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that oral contraceptives are safe for women to use and should be sold over the counter, citing studies that show that women are capable of “self-screening for contraindications.”
C. TRUE! Making birth control available over the counter would increase market competition and, consequently, reduce costs. The prices of other drugs have fallen when switching from prescription-only to over the counter. For example, the price of the drug Claritin fell 50 percent within a year when it became available over the counter.
Making birth control more affordable and accessible can remove unnecessary barriers for all women who choose to use this drug but would particularly help low-income and uninsured women.
While some argue that no co-pay birth control is the best way for women to access birth control, it’s important to remember that just because you don’t pay a co-pay doesn’t mean the drug is free. To cover expenses, insurance companies can simply drive up premiums, which means that we’re still the ones who end up bearing the costs.
To learn more about over-the-counter birth control, check out my blog Lower The Cost of Birth Control By Making It Available OTC.