October 2012, Washington, DC: Annual working group meeting

On October 22, 2012, the OCs OTC Working Group held a day-long meeting in Washington, DC, to share recent research developments and discuss emerging issues related to an OTC switch for OCs. More than fifty people from over 35 organizations attended the meeting, which featured eight unique panels. Attendees represented a range of groups and interests including research, reproductive rights and justice, women’s health advocacy and policy, pharmaceuticals, and health care provision.

Building on the focus of the previous year’s meeting, the 2012 panels provided an overview of the evidence and history of the working group; updated attendees on recent research findings related to OTC access to OCs, including results of a national survey of women at risk of unintended pregnancy on their interest in OTC access, results from participatory research with young women and women of color on OCs OTC, and results from a study on self-screening for contraindications to combined OCs in Tanzania; discussed OTC contraception and age restrictions, including lessons learned from emergency contraception; discussed progestin-only pills (POPs) as the first OTC OC; detailed recent research on and strategies related to cost and insurance coverage for an OTC OC, including an update on the Affordable Care Act and recent research on insurance coverage strategies for OTC contraception; provided an overview on the FDA’s proposal to expand the category of OTC medications under “conditions of safe use;” and brainstormed next steps in moving forward with an OTC switch, including communications strategies and potential stakeholders to engage.

The Oral Contraceptives Over-the-Counter Working Group is now the Free the Pill coalition!

We are excited to expand our work under the Free the Pill umbrella and continue to leverage the expertise of coalition members to improve and expand equitable contraceptive access. Please visit the Free the Pill website to learn more about the coalition and how organizations and professionals can get involved.

As part of this change, the OCs OTC website has been archived and is being kept available as a historical resource to highlight the work that members of the OCs OTC Working Group have been engaged in since 2004 to build the evidence in support of OTC birth control pills in the United States. If you have any questions about the Free the Pill coalition and our work, please reach out.