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What You Need To Know About Over-The-Counter Birth Control Pills

On June 23, President Joe Biden issued an executive order to make birth control more accessible and affordable. Efforts like Biden’s have come after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which ensured the right to abortion, last summer. However, June 13 marks a significant step toward maintaining reproductive freedom as the FDA has approved the first non-prescription birth control.

The United States Food and Drug Administration approved the Opill tablet for nonprescription use to prevent pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s the first daily oral contraceptive approved for use in the U.S. without a prescription, providing a new option for consumers and opening accessibility to birth control. 

The FDA granted approval to Laboratoire HRA Pharma, which was recently acquired by Perrigo Company plc.

There’s been an increase in birth control usage among Gen Z following the overturn of Roe and 37% of Gen Zers who are sexually active have used the contraceptive pill, according to a survey by Voxburner. 

While the Opill tablet is the only over-the-counter pill on the market, given the increase in young people who are looking toward contraceptive pills, it’s clear that this option will help address issues like lack of accessibility and affordability across the country. Here’s what you need to know before Opill officially hits the shelves.

What will the opill cost? 

Birth control pills cost between $0–$50 a month, according to Planned Parenthood. Birth control can also be free with most health insurance plans, or if you qualify for some government programs. 

In general, over-the-counter medicines are cheaper than prescriptions, but they typically aren’t covered by insurance, AP News reported.

While there isn’t a sticker price yet for Opill — meaning we don’t know how much it will cost — we do know that affordability is one of the main focus areas for the reproductive health community, the New York Times reported. 

Additionally, Perrigo is “committed to ensuring that Opill is affordable and accessible to the people who need it,” said Frederique Welgryn, Perrigo’s global vice president for women’s health, in a briefing. The suggested retail price will be communicated in the coming months, Welgryn added.

When will over-the-counter birth control be available on the shelves?

The manufacturer determines the timeline for its availability, and the company has said Opill will be available in stores and online early in the first quarter of 2024, NPR reported. 

The first quarter generally means sometime between January 1 and March 31. 

So, how does the opill work?

Opill contains a 28-day supply, and is made up of norgestrel, which is like a “progestin-only” birth control pill, CBS News reported. Progestin-only pills were first approved to be prescribed by doctors in the 1970s.

The product has simple guidelines too: Take one tablet every day, at the same time, according to the FDA. The administration is continuous, and there shouldn’t be any interruptions between pill packs.

Like any oral contraceptive, there are some side effects like irregular bleeding, headaches, and cramps or bloating. 

Although so many people have been affected by the overturn of Roe, it seems we’re finally taking a step in the right direction. We already know that contraceptive pills are critical to maintaining reproductive freedom, and allowing them to be sold over the counter is a necessity in protecting that reproductive freedom.

Julia is a national writer at Her Campus, where she mainly covers mental health, wellness, and all things relating to Gen Z. Prior to becoming a national writer, Julia was the wellness intern for Her Campus. Outside of Her Campus, Julia is a managing editor at The Temple News, Temple University's independent student-run paper. She's also the Co-Campus Correspondent of Her Campus Temple University, where she oversees content for all sections of the website. Julia is also a student intern at the Logan Center for Urban Investigative Reporting, where she works on the data desk and is assisting her editor in building a database. She has previously interned at The American Prospect. In her free time, Julia enjoys going to the beach as much as possible, watching reality TV (specifically Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules), and editing stories.