Federal advisors from two Food and Drug Administration committees announced they are backing an over-the-counter birth control pill, creating a pathway for FDA approval of the first oral contraception to be sold on U.S. store shelves without a prescription.
This latest development could have a huge impact on public health by increasing access to birth control for underserved populations. The drug manufacturer, HRA Pharma, has requested the approval cover all users of reproductive age, including teenagers. With barriers to access reduced through this low-cost option, HRA Pharma said Opill could prevent upwards of 37,000 unplanned pregnancies each year. A decision is expected later this summer.
Those in public health understand the significance of this development as well as an increased need for health literacy to ensure all women understand how to take it effectively, as well as the risks and side effects. Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences public health experts can share insight into the what this could mean for underserved populations, as well as what educational and monitoring efforts will be needed to support the implementation of the most common type of birth control (e.g., hormone-based oral contraceptives). These experts are part of The Collaboratory, an ACPHS public health practice site in Albany’s South End, designed to develop and offer programs addressing social justice and social determinants of health with the shared goal of improving population health, while increasing medication literacy.
The ACPHS experts on this issue include:
- Wendy Parker PhD, program director and faculty for a CEPH-accredited standalone bachelor’s degree program in public health, as well as executive director of the Collaboratory. Her work spans the fields of health and health care, family, and social policy, examining the causes of social inequalities throughout the life course, as well as disparities in complex patient populations and women and children's health and health care.
- Jacqueline Dwyer ’13, PharmD, Collaboratory’s public health pharmacist and ACPHS alumni providing services to support families in Albany’s South End. As a registered pharmacist, Dr. Dwyer can help explain the various types of hormone-based birth control and why the FDA committees have supported this proposal as well as discuss the need for pharmacists to dispense birth control medications and medication management, expanding on access for underserved populations.