BY MATTHEW PERRONE
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials have approved the first over-the-counter birth control pill, which will let American women and girls buy contraceptive medication from the same aisle as aspirin and eyedrops.
The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it cleared Perrigo’s once-a-day Opill to be sold without a prescription, making it the first such medication to be moved out from behind the pharmacy counter. The company won’t start shipping the pill until early next year, and there will be no age restrictions on sales.
Hormone-based pills have long been the most common form of birth control in the U.S., used by tens of millions of women since the 1960s. Until now, all of them required a prescription.
Medical societies and women’s health groups have pushed for wider access, noting that an estimated 45% of the 6 million annual pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. Teens and girls, women of color and those with low incomes report greater hurdles in getting prescriptions and picking them up.
Some of the challenges can include paying for a doctor’s visit, getting time off from work and finding child care.