Policy Studies Competition Policy

Bringing Hormonal Birth Control Over The Counter

Key Points

In most jurisdictions obtaining hormonal contraceptives requires an office visit with a physician or advanced practice provider to obtain a prescription before filling it at a pharmacy. For people living in isolated or underserved areas or limited economic resources, this process is unduly burdensome and decreases access to contraceptive options.
A number of medical organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association, have endorsed over-the-counter access for oral contraceptive pills. They cite the product’s lengthy record of safety and efficacy, as well as studies showing that patients can accurately self-screen for potential contraindications.
Emergency contraception’s transition from prescription only to over-the-counter demonstrates a pathway to deregulation of other hormonal contraceptives. Since emergency contraception is not intended to be used as a primary method of birth control, expanding access to highly effective contraceptive methods may help decrease the persistently high rate of unintended pregnancy.

…it is vital to address the unnecessary, top-down regulatory hurdles women face when acquiring birth control. Doing so will not only greatly improve access but will also improve measures of health for women who use it, including fewer unintended pregnancies, decreased risk of cancers, management of gynecological disorders and improved regularity of menstrual cycles.

Press release: R Street Institute: Women should have access to over-the-counter hormonal birth control

Image credit:  areeya_ann

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