Product News and Recalls

Birth control advocates call for over-the-counter pills

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration held a two-day hearing this week to discuss whether to expand the list of drugs that consumers can buy without a prescription, according to a Bloomberg report.

While the agency’s discussions center on cholesterol, asthma, migraine and blood-pressure medications, birth control advocates are using the debate to raise the question of whether contraceptives should be available over the counter.

Daniel Grossman, a senior associate with research and advocacy group Ibis Reproductive Health, said such an arrangement might raise health care costs because many insurance plans cover only prescription medications.

Over-the-counter birth control might also increase risks. There are many types of birth control available on the market, and women often rely on their doctors to inform them of the side-effects and trade-offs of each. For example, some doctors are limiting when they prescribe Beyaz, Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella because of a potential increased risk of life-threatening blood clots. If the doctor is cut out of the equation, women may lose the benefit of this type of valuable information.

Recently, some women’s health advocates have criticized the FDA for its actions in allowing Beyaz, Ocella, Yasmin, Yaz and other oral contraceptives containing the compound drospirenone to remain on the market,

In December, members of an FDA panel voted 15 to 11 that the benefits of keeping drospirenone-containing contraceptives on the market outweigh the risks. Subsequent reports revealed that at least four of the panel members had financial or professional ties to Bayer, the corporation that manufactures those pills, while many of the votes failed to consider the other birth control pills available on the market.

Executive directors of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, the National Research Center for Women & Families, the National Women’s Health Network, and Our Bodies Ourselves sent a letter to the FDA criticizing the panel’s membership.

The letter also pointed out that other readily available birth control pills carry a far lower risk of blood clots, pulmonary embolism, or stroke than those containing drospirenone.

If you’ve suffered injury as a result of taking Beyaz, Ocella, Yasmin or Yaz, contact Lopez McHugh for a free consultation.

See the Bloomberg story here: