October 2013

Interest in over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives among women in the United States

Grossman D, Grindlay K, Li R, Potter J, Trussell J, Blanchard K. Interest in over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives among women in the United States. Contraception. 2013 Oct;88(4):544-52

Background: A growing body of evidence indicates that over-the-counter (OTC) access to oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) is safe and effective.

Study Design: We performed a nationally representative survey of adult women at risk of unintended pregnancy using a probability-based online panel. In November-December 2011, 2046 eligible women completed the survey. Weighted proportions were calculated, and logistic regression was used to identify covariates associated with support for and interest in using an OTC OCP.

Results: A total of 62.2% said they were strongly (31.4%) or somewhat (30.9%) in favor of OCPs being available OTC. A total of 37.1% of participants reported being likely to use OCPs if available OTC, including 58.7% of current users, 28.0% using no method and 32.7% using a less effective method. Covariates associated with a higher odds of reporting interest in using OTC OCPs were younger age; being divorced, being separated or living with a partner (versus married); being uninsured or having private insurance (versus public insurance); living in the south (versus northeast); and current use of OCPs or less effective methods, or nonuse of contraception (versus use of another hormonal method or intrauterine device). Among respondents who said they were likely to use OTC OCPs, the highest amount they were willing to pay was on average $20.

Conclusions: US women are supportive of OTC access to OCPs, and many would obtain refills OTC or start using OCPs if they were available OTC.