Government is the Biggest Barrier to Contraception

Leave it to David Henderson to cut the Gordian knot on this issue:

[T]here is a way that the federal government now cuts access to contraceptives in a way that substantially raises the cost. Were the government to get rid of the regulation that does this, women’s access to contraceptives would rise and the cost would fall.

What is the regulation? It’s the one that requires contraceptive pills to be prescription drugs. If, instead, drug companies were allowed to sell contraceptives over the counter, access would rise and cost would fall…

Let’s say I can’t convince you. So how about this? …let pharmacists decide whether to sell them to women who ask for them. In other words, cut the high-priced doctor out of the loop. This is done in many countries and, in fact, was done in the United States before 1938. Pharmacists often have more information about drugs than doctors do: fancy that.

Comments (8)

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  1. Davie says:

    I agree that this is a great policy. I understand social concerns but think a pharmacist’s discretion should be sufficient to respect local morality.

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    This is one of those ideas that is so simple, yet so incredibly good: make oral contraceptives an over-the-counter drug or a so-called behind-the-counter drug.

  3. Vicki says:

    Great post.

  4. Brian says:

    There is a long list of drugs that are prescription that should be over-the-counter.

  5. Stephen C. says:

    Great post and great proposals. Let’s make it all over the counter.

  6. Canada Medical Supplies says:

    excellent job…….and i hope it will get great success soon………

    Edmonton Medical Supplies

  7. John R. Graham says:

    The federal government’s taking monopoly control of the Rx vs. OTC decision happened within living memory of many readers of this blog: The 1951 Durham-Humphrey amendment to the Food, Drug, & Cosmetics Act.

    I agree with Prof. Henderson that this decision should be up to the manufacturer, and I think it should have a connection with product-liability law in the states. That is, if the medicine has such dangerous side effects that a jury would make an expensive judgment against a manufacturer, it would choose to make the medicine a prescription (Rx) medicine and lower the risk of such a big judgment.

    This might lead to different drug prices in different states, depending on the product-liability laws. This would also require that the product-liability law of the state in which the medicine was dispensed be the governing law.

    In this case, a quasi-market would arise. For example, suppose New Jersey had a strict product-liability law with lesser liability for Rx drugs, but Pennsylvania had a less strict law. We’d expect to see the same drugs sold at higher prices, by prescription, in New Jersey, and at lower prices, over-the-counter (OTC) in Pennsylvania. Consumers would cross the state line to buy medicines under the regime that they preferred.

    Would any lawyers like to weigh in on the reasonableness of this approach?

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