FDA Approves Over-The-Counter Birth Control Pill Opill; Available As Early As Next Year

The first ever over-the-counter birth control can be seen on pharmacy shelves as early as next year. 

Friday, July 14th 2023, 5:21 pm

The first ever over-the-counter birth control can be seen on pharmacy shelves as early as next year. 

The FDA approved the Opill (norgestrel) tablet to be sold without a doctor’s order.

This is the first daily oral contraceptive approved for use in the U.S. without a prescription.

While abortions were mostly banned in the state during the 2022 legislative session, many lawmakers have worked to ensure contraceptives are still available to Oklahomans.

“Eighty two percent of Oklahomans would like for us to have expanded access to birth control,” Representative Toni Hasenbeck, (R ) Elgin, said. “Even though I might have personal objections to it, it does meet what the people of Oklahoma seem to want.”

Hasenbeck said she’s concerned about the safety of women taking this without a doctor’s order.

“It will be easier to go to your pharmacy and pick up your medication then it will be to make an appointment and go see your physician,” Rep. Hasenbeck said.

The over-the-counter medicine has no age restrictions, which could be a deciding factor for some pharmacies questioning whether or not they plan to carry this pill.

“There's going to be a lot of point-to-point education that goes along with this, and they're going to have to decide if they can manage that in their practice,” Rep. Hasenbeck said.

Rep. Hasenbeck authored a bill this session that is aimed at clarifying that the state’s abortion laws do not prohibit, restrict, limit or otherwise affect contraceptive drugs such as birth control.

“As every republican woman, we want to be responsible for our finances, we want to be responsible for our family, and a lot of times the best way to do that is to decide when you do or do not get pregnant,” Rep. Hasenbeck said. 

The bill passed off the house floor with a vote of 90 yes and 0 no.

“No questions, no objections, everybody in the chamber voted for it, so I think that's another indication that Oklahomans want to make sure women have access to birth control,” Rep. Hasenbeck said.

The bill didn’t make it all the way through the legislature this session, but Hasenbeck is hoping to revive it at the start of next session.

“That bill can actually be a live round the first week in February. I'm really excited about that one, it sort of survived the process,” Rep. Hasenbeck said.

More on Opill: Almost half of the 6.1 million pregnancies in the U.S. each year are unintended, according to the FDA.

“Today’s approval marks the first time a nonprescription daily oral contraceptive will be an available option for millions of people in the United States,” Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said. “When used as directed, daily oral contraception is safe and is expected to be more effective than currently available non-prescription contraceptive methods in preventing unintended pregnancy.”

The manufacturer will determine the cost and timeline of the pill. The pill isn’t expected to hit store shelves until early 2024.


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