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CNN reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a birth control pill to be available to women over the counter (OTC), the first of its kind not to require a prescription.

“Today’s approval marks the first time a nonprescription daily oral contraceptive will be an available option for millions of people in the United States,” Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “When used as directed, daily oral contraception is safe and is expected to be more effective than currently available nonprescription contraceptive methods in preventing unintended pregnancy.”

The FDA said, in part: “Nonprescription availability of Opill may reduce barriers to access by allowing individuals to obtain an oral contraceptive without the need to first see a health care provider. Almost half of the 6.1 million pregnancies in the U.S. each year are unintended. Unintended pregnancies have been linked to negative maternal and perinatal outcomes, including reduced likelihood of receiving early prenatal care and increased risk of preterm delivery, with associated adverse neonatal, developmental and child health outcomes. Availability of nonprescription Opill may help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and their potential negative impacts."

CNN notes that "American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists President Dr. Verda Hicks and CEO Dr. Christopher Zahn said in a statement Thursday that the pill is safe."

KC's View:

I mention this because I suspect that like many women's healthcare issues, this one is likely to become a political hot potato.  In some markets, it strikes me as entirely possible that there will be folks who will not want retailers to carry this OTC medication and will try to apply political pressure to get their way.

There also, I suspect, be the inevitable lawsuits challenging the FDA's ability and expertise in issuing approvals such as this one.

Retailers need to be prepared.  This is a debate in which they will not want to be involved, but they won't have many options - they'll have to choose between a small but loud minority and the customers they serve who will want access to this medication.