March 2014

Should oral contraceptives be available over the counter?

Wahlin B, Grindlay K, Grossman D. Should oral contraceptives be available over the counter? Food and Drug Policy Forum. March 2014 4(3).

This issue  explores the public health regulations and research behind the movement to switch oral contraceptives (OCs) from prescription to over-the-counter (OTC) status. Authors  argue that the safety of OCs outweighs the risks of making OCs available OTC, and that women are capable, without physician intervention, of determining whether they have any medical conditions that would make the use of OCs unsafe. They recommend that FDA, after considering the evidence, approve an application from a manufacturer for an OTC OC pill with no age restriction; that the Department of Health and Human Services remove "as prescribed" from the Affordable Care Act's preventive services rule on contraceptive coverage so that insurers are required to cover OTC contraceptive methods without requiring a prescription; and that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services change federal Medicaid policy so that states are able to receive a federal match for covering OTC contraceptives without requiring women to have a prescription.