FDA urged to allow over-the-counter sales of birth control

Pic by Ceridwn, via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, doctors and reproductive rights advocates announced that they will lobby the FDA to include birth control in a list of drugs that can be offered without prescriptions.

Bloomberg reported:

The agency discussed at a hearing [last week] whether cholesterol, asthma, migraine and blood-pressure medications should be sold over-the-counter, a regulatory change intended to lower costs and ease access to drugs for people with chronic ailments. Reproductive-rights advocates today urged that any expansion of nonprescription drugs include birth control.

The FDA began its two-day public hearing yesterday to discuss way to enhance pharmacists’ roles in chronic treatments or supplement drug labels in an interactive way that helps people determine whether they have a condition and need a drug, said Janet Woodcock, director of the agency’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. The agency hasn’t taken a position on oral contraception.

Last December, the federal government struck down the FDA’s effort to expand access to the morning after pill, or Plan B, without prescriptions. Plan B is a form of emergency contraception that has caused controversy among anti-abortion activists who believe taking the drug is similar to having an abortion.

The morning after pill is currently available without a prescription to any woman 17 or older with a photo ID. Anyone younger than 17 needs a prescription. Reproductive rights advocates have long warned that the restriction creates a longer wait time that is ill-advised for any woman seeking emergency contraception.

After the federal government’s intervention in that decision, women’s health advocates sent a petition to the Obama administration denouncing the move.

Groups have long lobbied for the FDA to allow women to obtain birth control without a prescription.