Approval of First OTC Contraception Extends Pharmacists’ Reach in Comprehensive Care

Pharmacy TimesAugust 2023
Volume 89
Issue 8

Although the price and availability timeline of norgestrel have yet to be determined, experts already agree that it is an important step toward increased access to contraception.

With the recent FDA approval of norgestrel (Opill), the first nonprescription contraceptive,1 pharmacists have new opportunities to counsel patients and provide comprehensive care outside the realm of dispensing.

Capsules medicine and white medicine bottles on table in drugstore with blurred background of pharmacist and pharmacy. | Image Credit: Satawat -

Satawat -

Although the price and availability timeline of norgestrel have yet to be determined, experts already agree that it is an important step toward increased access to contraception.

Additionally, the approval could potentially open the door to other prescription-to-OTC contraceptive switches.1 Patients are sure to have many questions regarding the safe use of the OTC progestin-only contraceptive, and pharmacists can step in to help. The efficacy of norgestrel was established with its original FDA approval in 1973, and studies showed that consumer understanding of the nonprescription drug labeling was high overall, with a high proportion of consumers understanding the instructions.1

Many questions remain about how patients and consumers will utilize this new option, but it is certain that pharmacists are increasingly at the forefront of patient care, providing much-needed counseling and access. As Pharmacy Times Editor in Chief Troy Trygstad, PharmD, PhD, MBA, notes in this month’s Editor’s Note, the pandemic confirmed that community pharmacies are the undisputed location for convenient access to protocol-based assessments, treatments, and diagnostics, including in reproductive care.

Pharmacists can also take an active role in helping parents prepare their children for back-to-school season, which is approaching quickly. This month’s Cover Feature includes our annual back-to-school checklist. Pharmacists can remind parents and caregivers to update their child’s immunizations and schedule well-child visits and can field questions about how to help children manage stress or anxiety during this busy season.

Parents should also be reminded to keep opioids locked away out of children’s reach, which is discussed in this month’s MTM Consult on opioid safety. Elsewhere in this issue, we discuss the need to treat obesity as a chronic illness, the importance of early treatment for postpartum depression, and how routine habits can prevent oral health issues. For all these various topics (and many, many more), pharmacists are heading up efforts to educate patients and improve access.

Thanks for reading.


FDA approves first nonprescription daily oral contraceptive. News release. FDA. July 13, 2023. Accessed July 13, 2023.

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