Patty Murray

03/04/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/04/2024 06:20

Murray, Hirono, Cortez Masto Statement on First-Ever Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pill Hitting Shelves in the U.S.

More than two-thirds of voters across parties support making the pill available over-the-counter

ICYMI: Hirono, Murray, Cortez Masto Lead Colleagues in Urging Opill Manufacturer to Release an Affordable Retail Price and Broad Distribution Strategy

ICYMI: Murray, Hirono, Cortez Masto Rally for Over-The-Counter Birth Control, Reintroduce Affordability is Access Act

***VIDEOof Senator Murray Urging FDA to Approve Over-the-Counter Birth Control; VIDEOof Senator Murray urging passage of her Affordability is Access Act***

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) released the following joint statement on Perrigo's announcement that Opill-the first-ever birth control pill to be available over the counter in the United States-is launching online and headed to store shelves this month. The manufacturer's suggested retail price for Opill will be $19.99 for a one-month supply and $49.99 for a three-month supply. The FDA approved Opill in July, paving the way for it to become the first-ever birth control pill to be sold without a prescription in the U.S.-and the most effective birth control method available over the counter. In July, the three lawmakers led a letter to Perrigo, the manufacturer of Opill, urging the company to release a low and affordable retail price and begin broad distribution of the product as soon as possible. The letter is available HERE.

"This is a true milestone for birth control access across America, which is fundamental to women's equality and women's ability to plan their lives on their own terms," Senators Murray, Hirono, and Cortez Masto said. "Access to over-the-counter birth control is now more important than ever after the Dobbs decision opened the floodgates for Republicans to rip away reproductive rights, pass dangerous abortion bans, and go after emergency contraception and other forms of birth control-all of which are happening."

"The availability of Opill on shelves and for online order is a huge step forward that will make accessing birth control so much easier for so many women-especially women who live in rural areas, lack reliable transportation, or are uninsured. The work doesn't stop here-more needs to be done to make sure every American can access and afford the pill over the counter," the senators continued. "A big part of that is making sure that Opill is fully covered by insurers, with no prescription barrier or extra costs-our legislation would make this a reality, and it's needed now more than ever now that Opill is hitting the shelves. We'll be pushing hard to pass the Affordability is Access Act and continue fighting to make sure everyone who needs access to birth control can get it, regardless of their income."

Senators Murray, Hirono, and Cortez Masto lead the Affordability is Access Act, bicameral legislation that would require insurers to fully cover any FDA-approved over-the-counter birth control option-without any fees or out-of-pocket costs, and without a prescription requirement. The Affordability is Access Act addresses the reality that for many-especially those with the tightest budgets-true access requires affordability. Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) and Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA-06) lead the legislation in the House. In October 2023, Murray led a letter, signed by 48 senators including Hirono and Cortez Masto, urging the Biden administration to require federally and state-regulated health insurance plans to fully cover FDA-approved over-the-counter birth control methods-including Opill-with no out-of-pocket costs or prescription barrier. That letter is available HERE.

Birth control pills have been used effectively for over half a century by hundreds of millions of women in the U.S. With this launch, the U.S. joins over 100 other countries in having birth control pills available over the counter. Nearly 8 in 10 voters have a favorable view of birth control pills and more than 7 in 10 support making the pill available over-the-counter. Birth control is personal to many voters-according to recent polling, more than three-quarters of voters have used a form of contraception, and birth control is viewed positively by wide margins (84% favorable / 9% unfavorable). A majority of voters (53%) believe access to contraception is at risk in their state.

Soon after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory Committee's unanimous vote last summer recommending that FDA move forward to approve the first-ever application for over-the-counter birth control, Senator Murray and Representative Pressley held a press conference urging FDA to follow the science and quickly review the over-the-counter birth control application. Two months later, the FDA formally approved Opill, paving the way for it to become the first-ever birth control pill to be sold without a prescription in the U.S.