Mar 5, 2024 - Health

OTC birth control priced at $19.99 a month

Illustration of a hand holding a packet of birth control pills with dollar bill imagery overlayed

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

The first daily birth control pill to be sold without a prescription will be available on store shelves and online later this month with a suggested retail price of $19.99 a month, manufacturer Perrigo said on Monday.

Why it matters: Reproductive rights advocates say the contraceptives, sold as Opill, could increase access for millions of women who lack access to a full range of birth control methods.

  • However, federal law only encourages, but doesn't require, health plans to offer no-cost coverage of over-the-counter birth control.

Driving the news: Opill's entry comes amid a volatile election-year debate over reproductive health and just days after CVS and Walgreens announced plans to start selling abortion pills this month.

  • Perrigo said on Monday that Opill has been shipped to pharmacies and other retailers and is available for pre-order this week. It can also be purchased online at Opill.com.
  • A three-month supply will fetch $49.99 and a six-month supply will be $89.99.

Catch up quick: The Food and Drug Administration last July approved Opill for sale, allowing the U.S. to follow more than 100 countries that permit the sale of contraceptive pills without a prescription.

  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has argued that since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, increasing access to birth control through over-the-counter oral contraception is critical so that more people can control their reproductive fates.
  • FDA advisers earlier last year concluded that patients can properly follow Opill's labeling instructions — including taking the pill at around the same time every day — without consulting with a health provider.

In Congress, Senate Democrats Patty Murray of Washington, Mazie Hirono of Hawai'i and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada quickly renewed calls for health plans to offer no-cost coverage, Axios' Victoria Knight writes.

  • The lawmakers are specifically pushing the bicameral Affordability is Access Act that would require insurers to fully cover any FDA-approved over-the-counter birth control. It faces long odds in a divided Congress.
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