Over-the-counter birth control pill to be available within weeks on retail shelves

March 5, 2024

Birth control pills will be available without a prescription on retail shelves for the first time ever in the United States this month, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The over-the-counter (OTC) contraceptive pills—branded as Opill and made by health-product company Perrigosoon will become the most effective birth-control method available without a doctor’s visit.

The drug represents a milestone that reproductive activists have pursued for decades—and comes as women’s fertility is at the center of a national conversation on abortion and in vitro fertilization

Walgreens and CVS have said they will offer the abortion pill mifepristone by later this month. “Opill will be available at CVS.com and through the CVS Pharmacy app in late March,” spokesperson Matt Blanchette wrote in an email on Friday, March 1.

“This is a[n] historic breakthrough,” said Dana Singiser, co-founder of the nonprofit Contraceptive Access Initiative, which supported the Food and Drug Administration’s OTC approval of the pill last year. “Without a prescription this becomes a game changer for people who can’t afford to go to doctor’s visits or hourly workers who need to take time off to schedule appointments.”

Dublin-based Perrigo has shipped its Opill to major U.S. retailers and expects it to be widely available by the end of the month. The company said it would sell a one-month pack for $19.99 and a three-month pack for $49.99.

Opill, which uses the hormone progestin to suppress ovulation, was shown to be 98% effective at preventing pregnancy when used as directed, beating out other over-the-counter methods, such as condoms and spermicide. Other prescription methods that require a doctor’s visit, such as intrauterine devices, are more effective.

Perrigo also will sell its product on its website, including a six-month pack for $89.99. The company said it would ship the pills in discreet packaging to online buyers.

Research contact: @WSJ