Speed Reads

Birth control breakthrough

FDA panel votes unanimously to make birth control pill available over the counter

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's advisory panel voted unanimously to make the birth control pill Opill available over the counter, saying that the benefits outweigh the risks, The New York Times reports. "I think Opill has the potential to have a huge positive public health impact," said advisory committee member Kathryn Curtis.

While Opill manufacturer Perrigo called the outcome "groundbreaking," this doesn't mean the pill will be available just yet, CNN writes. The FDA is not required to listen to the advisory committee and will decide whether to make the pill available sometime in the summer. Some agency members are concerned about whether people will use the product as directed, especially those with health conditions and adolescents. "The FDA has been put in a very difficult position of trying to determine whether it is likely that women will use this product safely and effectively at the nonprescription setting," explained Dr. Karen Murry, deputy director of the FDA's office of nonprescription drugs.

The push to approve Opill is stronger than ever as many states have adopted extra-restrictive abortion bans following the overturning of Roe v. Wade (1973). Maternal healthcare has also reportedly been on a decline because of these laws. "I think this represents a landmark in our history of women's health," commented advisor Dr. Marjorie Gass said of the FDA progress. "Unwanted pregnancies can really derail a woman's life, and especially an adolescent's life."

"We are motivated by the millions of people who need easy access to safe and effective contraception," remarked Perrigo president and CEO Murray S. Kessler in a statement. "Today's outcome reflects Perrigo's steadfast commitment to women and people, and their health."