Ibis responds to FDA’s announcement to postpone advisory committee meeting for over-the-counter birth control pill

October 2022

We are frustrated and deeply disappointed by the FDA’s delay of the advisory committee meeting to discuss the application to move a progestin-only birth control pill over the counter (OTC). Birth control pills are safe and effective, and over-the-counter availability would expand equitable access to care. Given the decades of evidence and science showing that oral contraception is safe and effective for over-the-counter use, coupled with the urgency of the need, this delay is unnecessary and unjustified.

Increasing access to birth control pills by removing the prescription requirement is a public health priority, and now, more than ever, we need to increase access to the contraception people want and need. Every day we wait is another day longer where barriers remain in place preventing people from getting access to the contraceptive care they need. The FDA must prioritize reviewing the first-ever application for an OTC birth control pill and ensure an evidence-based decision, on their typical 10-month timeline, that reflects the decades of safe use and research and the broad public health benefit.

We call on the agency to set a new date immediately and continue their scientific review of the application in a timely manner.

Victoria Nichols, project director of Free the Pill, a project of Ibis Reproductive Health focused on bringing birth control pills over the counter in the United States, released the following statement –

We have decades of evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of birth control pills and research shows that the prescription-only model involves too many barriers due to systemic inequities. Now, more than ever, it is time to change our systems and policies so that they reflect the science, advance health equity, and serve to benefit public health. The FDA has an opportunity to make this change and reduce barriers by prioritizing the timely review of the first-ever application for an over-the-counter birth control pill. This change is urgent, long overdue, and would enable people to have greater control over their health and futures.

Debra Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth and Free the Pill coalition steering committee member released the following statement – 

Just the other week, Vice President Harris met with young advocates from around the country and urged them to continue fighting for reproductive freedom. With the delay by the FDA, we're left wondering how strongly the administration will support that fight. Young people are disillusioned by empty words and looking for the administration to act. We urge the FDA to convene the advisory committee as soon as possible and to approve an over-the-counter birth control pill without delay.

Dr. Krishna Upadhya, an adolescent medicine physician and Free the Pill coalition steering committee member released the following statement – 

As a medical provider, I have seen many patients who experience barriers to contraception—and especially younger patients—who could benefit from more ways to access birth control pills. I support making birth control pills over the counter because the evidence is clear—oral contraceptives are safe and effective. The FDA must make it a priority to review the application to bring a  progestin-only birth control pill OTC.

Monica Simpson, executive director of SisterSong and Free the Pill coalition Steering Committee Member, released the following statement – 

We are in a health care crisis. Black, Indigenous, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders, Latinx folks, and other people of color have been hit the hardest by new barriers states have erected to prevent people from accessing the care they need. We cannot wait another day; people need access now to tools to control their reproductive lives. This includes over-the-counter birth control pills.