Since the 1960s, women living in the United States have had access to birth control pills. Although available, in order to get the pills, one needs a prescription due to the concern of blood clots. But now, thanks to HRA Pharma, they are petitioning the FDA to allow a contraceptive pill to be sold over the counter. And it should be noted that the pill in question, called Opill, was once owned by Pfizer, the same company responsible for the COVID-19 drug.
Making their announcement on Monday, HRA claimed that their decision to push for Opill to be sold over the counter had nothing to do with the Supreme Court or Roe v. Wade. HRA Pharma’s chief strategy officer, Frédérique Welgryn, said it was “a really sad coincidence”, adding, “For a product that has been available for the last 50 years, that has been used safely by millions of women, we thought it was time to make it more available.”
A group that goes by the name Free the Pill released a statement, celebrating the move. “This is an exciting moment for the coalition. [I]n July 2022, HRA Pharma announced that it has submitted the first-ever application to the FDA to switch Opill, a progestin-only, daily birth control pill from prescription to over-the-counter status. Free the Pill celebrates this important milestone and looks forward to continuing to work with coalition members to ensure that future OTC birth control pills are affordable, fully covered by insurance, and accessible to people of all ages in the United States.”
Both Free the Pill and HRA Pharma have suggested that around one-third of women have had difficulty when it comes to obtaining contraceptive pills. With an over the counter option available, they believe it will stimulate economic growth while not deterring from a active sex life. A video on Free the Pill’s website stated the move could lead to “fuller participation in the workforce, career advancement, and greater economic well being” for females.
While the FDA won’t make a decision any time soon, if the pill was approved, Opill would be the first birth control pill available for over the counter purchase in the United States.