TORONTO – As the debate over birth control rages in the United States, one columnist has made a suggestion that is gaining traction in Canada – make the drug available over the counter.
Columnist Virginia Postrel wrote in a March 8 post on Bloomberg.com that birth control should be made available over-the-counter because of minimal safety concerns.
“Nearly two decades later, birth- control pills look even safer than they did then, and recent research indicates that women are both able and eager to manage their own purchase decisions,” Postrel says.
Though Postrel does admit that birth control pills carry potential side effects, she notes they are not the only drug that does. Ibuprofen – a drug which is readily available over the counter – also has a significant amount of side-effects, Postrel points out.
Some doctors suggest that ibuprofen, if released today, would be only available by prescription.
Dr. David Kaplan, Deputy Chief, Family & Community Medicine at North York General Hospital, says that both ibuprofen and birth control have side effects, but only the latter requires more extensive review.
“There is some monitoring that needs to happen when we place women on birth control medications. We want to check their blood pressures, we want to ensure, based on their age, whether or not they are having annual breast exams, it is a medication that requires ongoing follow up and review,” Kaplan said.
Despite Kaplan’s hesitation about making birth control available over the counter, an editorial written by Dr. David Grimes and published in the journal Public Health Policy Forum argues that birth control is safe enough for over-the-counter sale.
“Thirty years of intense epidemiologic study have confirmed that oral contraceptives are very safe,” Grimes writes.
Read it on Global News: Global Toronto | Argument erupts over birth control being available over-the-counter