How much will Opill cost? Here’s what we know

Perrigo Opill OTC Birth Control Pill - Opill

The first daily over-the-counter birth control pill, known as Opill (norgestrel), will be soon available for purchase at drugstores, convenience stores and grocery stores, as well as online. By removing the barrier of needing to have an appointment or get a prescription from a healthcare provider, the availability of Opill will improve contraceptive access for millions. And a one-month supply will be priced at $19.99, the parent company Perrigo reports, and has already started to ship to retailers like CVS and Walgreens, and will be on shelves later this month.

Opill has been shown to be 93% effective in preventing pregnancy with typical use, making it the most effective method of birth control available over the counter, surpassing condoms, spermicides and other nonprescription methods. Experts say it should be especially helpful for teens and young adults and others who, due to time, cost or other hurdles, haven’t been able to get a prescription method of birth control in the past.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first daily oral contraception available without a prescription in July 2023. “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, MD, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement after the approval. “When used as directed, daily oral contraception is safe and is expected to be more effective than currently available nonprescription contraceptive methods in preventing unintended pregnancy.”

What is Opill?

Opill is what’s known as a “mini pill”, in that it only contains progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone), not a combination of progestin and estradiol (a synthetic form of estrogen), and is designed to prevent pregnancy. Norgestrel, the active ingredient in Opill, was first approved for prescription use by the FDA in 1973, more than 50 years ago.

When used properly and taken at the same time every day, Opill is both safe and effective, and may help prevent unintended pregnancy. According to the FDA, almost half of the 6.1 million pregnancies in the US each year are unintended. Unintended pregnancies have been linked to harmful maternal and fetal outcomes, including a lower likelihood of receiving prenatal care and increased risk of preterm delivery.

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in 2022, widespread access to contraception has become even more vital as abortion access now comes down to the state level. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has long advocated for over-the-counter access to hormonal contraception, noting, “FDA’s approval of the first over-the-counter contraceptive is a critical step toward allowing Americans to take control of their bodies, their health, and their futures.”

The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians have also historically supported OTC birth control access.

When will Opill be available?

Perrigo, the manufacturer of Opill, states that Opill can soon be preordered from some online retailers. A three-month pack of Opill will also be sold at a price of $49.99 at retailers and A six-month supply that will cost $89.99, Perrigo reports.

Perrigo said in a statement that they are committed to making the pill “accessible and affordable to women and people of all ages.” Some purchasers may have access to a consumer assistance program that will provide the pill.

Will Opill be covered by insurance?

While the Affordable Care Act requires health insurance plans to pay for prescription contraception, over-the-counter methods are not covered in all states. But a group of Senators are pushing for full coverage through the Affordability is Access Act that would require insurers to fully cover any FDA-approved over-the-counter birth control. If passed, the law would have a major impact on increasing access.

“More needs to be done to make sure every American can access and afford the pill over-the-counter,” Sens. Patty Murray, Mazie Hirono and Catherine Cortez Masto said in a statement. “A big part of that is making sure that Opill is fully covered by insurers, with no prescription barrier or extra costs.”

A version of this story was originally published on July 13, 2023. It has been updated.