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San Diego OBGYN weighs in on over-the-counter birth control

OTC pill.jpg
Posted at 7:03 PM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 22:03:54-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego doctors are voicing their support for an over-the-counter birth control pill.

This week, a drug company asked the FDA for approval to sell the medication without a prescription.

"I'm really excited about the possibility of an over-the-counter birth control pill," Dr. Sarah Averbach said.

Averbach is an OB-GYN at UC San Diego Health.

"I think the science is clear. Birth control pills are one of the most studied medications on the market, and they're actually incredibly safe," said Dr. Averbach.

Averbach said the pill under FDA consideration is a progestin-only pill, which typically doesn't have as many side effects as other birth control pills.

"It's very similar to the hormone in an emergency contraception pill, which is already available over the counter," she said.

In California, only physicians and pharmacists can screen patients and prescribe the medication.

However, studies collected by UC San Francisco show women are capable of self-screening to determine whether the pill is right for them.

Averbach added there are some conditions like women with breast cancer or severe liver disease who should not take the pill.

"But, people often know that they have those conditions and have already discussed with their health care provider that progestin contraception wouldn't be a perfect method for them," she said.

Averbach said the only possible downside of an over-the-counter birth control pill is the cost.

"If folks are accessing contraception over the counter, there may be cost unless there's additional legislation to protect the ability to pay for the contraceptive using your insurance," Averbach said.

Given the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Averbach said expanding access to reproductive health is crucial in reducing the risk of unintended pregnancies.

"There are studies that demonstrate that there are folks who would be interested in accessing contraception over the counter that are not currently protecting themselves from pregnancies," she said.

The drug company expects the FDA to make a decision on over-the-counter birth control pills sometime next year.