Minor Thoughts from me to you

The pill has benefits beyond birth control

The pill has benefits beyond birth control →

I want to like this article, I really do. After all, I support Dr. Potts's main goal: making birth control pills available over-the-counter, without a prescription. It's a good goal. But he's dead wrong on one issue.

So why isn't the pill sold next to aspirin in every pharmacy or gas station? Commercial greed and a strong patriarchal streak in American politics.

Prescription medicines bring higher profits than over-the-counter drugs. As a doctor, I would recommend my loved ones use a low-dose generic pill whose safety has been well documented over a generation of use. A good generic manufacturer can make a packet of pills for under 20 cents, and they could be sold for $8 a month or less and still make a profit.

Sooner or later, one generic manufacturer will break ranks and ask the FDA to let the pill be sold without a prescription. Let's hope it's sooner.

Uhm, no. The pill is already available in multiple generic forms. Walmart and Target pharmacies both already sell it for about $9 / month. Dr. Potts is conflating two different things: prescription vs OTC and name-brand vs generic. Many generic drugs are still prescription only and many name-brand drugs are already OTC.

Drug companies make a large chunk of their profits by having a patent on a drug. Once that patent expires, any generic manufacturer can make and sell their own versions. But that doesn't automatically make the drug available over-the-counter. It just gives your doctor multiple options, at multiple price points, of what to prescribe for you.

No, the pill is still prescription only because the FDA is one of the most paranoid and risk averse Federal agencies. The pill won't be available OTC until there is enough public pressure to make it OTC or until Congress or the President forces them to make it OTC. Given that various governments are busy cracking down on Sudafed and taking it from OTC to prescription only, I'm not holding my breath for a happy ending for the pill.

This entry was tagged. Drugs Fda