In a two-day hearing that began yesterday, the FDA is in discussions to expand the number drugs that can be available over the counter, and birth-control advocates are looking to add oral contraception to the list today. Right now the drugs in question include cholesterol, asthma, migraine, and blood-pressure meds. If birth control pills are considered for over-the-counter availability, one of the ideas is to deliver them at drugstores via a computer kiosk. These kiosks would ask women the same health-related questions a doctor would ask — like whether they smoke or not — making sure the women should take the pills.
Women may have to pay more for over-the-counter birth control (insurance companies cover prescriptions, not over-the-counter drugs), but it would increase access when it's not convenient or possible to get a prescription. I know I've heard women complain of getting stuck on vacation without access to a doctor or having to spend an hour in a doctor's office waiting room when their prescriptions run out, and sometimes that can cause a lapse in taking their pill. Would you root for over-the-counter birth control pills?