Nationally representative survey on women’s opinions about over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives

A growing body of evidence suggests that at least some formulations of oral contraceptives (OCs) may be appropriate for over the counter (OTC) sale; however, few studies in recent years have examined women’s interest in OTC access to OCs. The objective of this study was to estimate the proportion of US women at risk of unintended pregnancy who support OTC access to OCs, as well as the proportion that would be likely to use an OTC OC. We also assessed willingness to pay for an OTC OC among women who said they were likely to use this option, and explored women’s opinions of OTC access, including their perceived benefits of and concerns about this provision model. To do this, we performed a nationally representative survey of adult women at risk of unintended pregnancy (aged 18-44, not pregnant or seeking pregnancy, sexually active, not sterilized) using the Knowledge Networks probability-based web panel. In November – December 2011, 2,046 eligible women completed the survey. Weighted proportions were calculated and logistic regression was used. Women were strongly supportive of OTC access to OCs, and many reported they would obtain refills or start using OCs if available OTC. Sixty-two percent of participants were in favor of OCs being available OTC, and 37% reported being likely to use OCs if available OTC, including 59% of current users and 30% of women using no method or a less effective method. On average, women were willing to spend $20 per month for an OTC OC product.