CV NEWS FEED // Food and Drug Administration officials announced Tuesday that birth control pills will now be available over-the-counter.
An advisory committee voted unanimously in May to recommend the contraceptive drug, Opill, for OTC status.
The pill will be available in stores in early 2024.
Ireland-based company Perrigo, Opill’s producer, has not said what the pill will cost, though most OTC drugs are typically cheaper than prescription drugs. Some experts are urging the Biden administration to require insurance companies to cover the cost.
The FDA’s action applies solely to Opill, which is sometimes referred to as the “mini pill” because it is progestin-only, unlike most oral contraceptives, which contain a combination of estrogen and progestin.
The single hormone pill was selected by the committee because its effects are less risky than those of combination pills. However, the progestin in Opill is known to increase risks of diseases such as breast cancer, HPV, and cervical cancer—all diseases which clinicians typically screen for in appointments where prescriptions for birth control pills have traditionally been obtained.
Progestin is also known to increase likelihood of depression and mood disorders.
The FDA lists bleeding, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and cramping as potential side effects. The label warns that hypertension and seizures are also risks of taking Opill.
In one study conducted by researchers from Princeton and the University of Pittsburgh, it was found that only 0.4% of reproductive aged women in the US currently use progestin-only contraception.
Craig Treptow, M.D., President of the Catholic Medical Association blasted the FDA’s decision.
“Given the extensive medical studies demonstrating the risks and adverse effects of hormonal contraceptives, CMA is disappointed and concerned for the health and safety of women across the United States with this initial approval,” said Treptow.
The approval comes in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s overturning, and the Biden administration’s June 2023 executive order, which calls for making contraception and chemical abortions more easily available to women.
As CatholicVote has previously reported, the FDA is prepared to further facilitate Biden’s contraceptive order by making chemical abortions more widely accessible despite the many risks to women’s health.
The FDA declined to answer questions regarding the safety of Opill or whether approval of combination hormone pills is forthcoming.