The Food and Drug Administration has just announced that the birth control pill Opill will be available without a prescription.
In a statement released by the agency, the decision was made to provide better access to contraception.
The manufacturer of the pill said it will be available over the counter in early 2024 and will be available for women of all ages.
“Doctors say that the progestin-only pill – often known as the “minipill” – is a particularly safe form of contraception because it does not contain oestrogen, meaning it has fewer side effects and health risks,” according to a BBC report.
“The most common side effects of Opill include irregular bleeding, headaches, dizziness and nausea.”
More than 100 countries across the globe provide birth control over the counter. Those nations include India, China and the UK.
“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,” Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, told the BBC.
The move comes after an FDA advisory panel unanimously voted to allow the pill to be available over the counter.
Several advocacy groups applauded the FDA’s decision including Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit devoted to reproductive health rights.
The organization says the price of the pill may be too expensive for some but they will now work with insurance companies to consider covering the cost.
At the time of this writing, it is unknown how much Opill will cost at pharmacies. The Biden administration said the manufacturer, Perrigo, will set the price.
Opill was first approved by the FDA in 1973 and is known to be safe and effective in preventing pregnancies, the panel found.
“Experts say women – and in particular, teenagers – encounter a number of barriers to accessing reproductive health services, including a lack of health insurance and difficulty finding transportation to doctor’s appointments,” according to the report.