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FDA Debates Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pills

FDA Debates Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pills

This week the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is debating the permissibility of some current
prescription drugs including birth control pills being made available for over the counter purchase. An FDA
decision granting over the counter sales of birth control pills at local pharmacies in grocery stores or drug stores
would increase dramatically. Over the counter drugs are relatively inexpensive versus the costs of prescription
only drugs. Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, remarks that, "Birth control pills can
cost as much as $600 per year if you include the required yearly or semi-annual visits to the doctor. An FDA
move to allow birth control pills to be sold over the counter will dramatically decrease the out of pocket expenses
women incur in buying contraceptives."

In addition to contraception, the birth control pill has multiple positive implications for women's health including
reducing the risk of ovarian and endometrian cancer. Medical researchers have also shown that taking two birth
control pills, with one pill taken 72 hours after sexual intercourse and the other pill taken 12 hours after the first
serves as an emergency method of contraception.

Media Resources: CNN and Nando Times - 29 June 2000