An FDA advisory panel on Wednesday unanimously endorsed making daily birth control pills available over-the-counter for the first time, following two days of deliberations over whether patient misuse could lead to more unintended pregnancies.
Why it matters: If the FDA follows the recommendation and switches HRA Pharma's Opill away from prescription-only use, it could expand the availability of contraception and deepen partisan rifts over reproductive health in the post-Roe landscape.
HRA Pharma, part of consumer products giant Perrigo, expects a final decision from the FDA to come at some point this summer.
Driving the news: In a 17-0 vote, members of two FDA advisory committees decided that patients can properly follow Opill's labeling instructions — including taking the pill at around the same time every day — without consulting with a health provider.
For the first time, retail pharmacies, from corner drugstores to major chains like CVS and Walgreens, will be allowed to offer abortion pills in the United States under a regulatory change made Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration. The action could significantly expand access to abortion through medication.
Until now, mifepristone — the first pill used in the two-drug medication abortion regimen — could be dispensed only by a few mail-order pharmacies or by specially certified doctors or clinics. Under the new F.D.A. rules, patients will still need a prescription from a certified health care provider, but any pharmacy that agrees to accept those prescriptions and abide by certain other criteria can dispense the pills in its stores and by mail order.
This would be a pretty big deal anyway, but given the Supreme Court's recent repeal of Roe vs. Wade, it obviously takes on even more significance.