Birth control that will be sold over-the-counter begins shipping in the US: What to know

Stock image of oral contraceptive pills in both 21 and 28 tablet strips. Getty Images

A birth control pill that will be the first in the U.S. to be purchased without a prescription will be available in stores later this month. 

Manufacturer Perrigo said Monday it has begun shipping the medication, Opill, to major retailers and pharmacies.

The launch gives American women another birth control option amid the legal and political battles over reproductive health, including the reversal of Roe v. Wade, which has upended abortion access across the U.S. 

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When announcing its approval of Opill last summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said nearly half of the country’s 6.1 million pregnancies each year are unintended.

"Availability of nonprescription Opill may help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and their potential negative impacts," the government agency said. 

Here is what to know about the approved contraceptive: 

Opill side effects


Perrigo Company product image of Opill via PRNewswire

Opill is an older class of contraceptive, sometimes called minipills, that contain a single synthetic hormone, progestin, and generally carry fewer side effects than more popular combination estrogen and progestin pills.

Those forms of contraceptives will remain available by prescription only. 

The most common side effects of Opill include irregular bleeding, headaches, dizziness, nausea, increased appetite, abdominal pain, cramps or bloating, according to the FDA

Opill should not be used by those who have or have ever had breast cancer, the FDA also said. 

The pill is taken once-a-day orally. 

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Opill price

A one-month supply will cost about $20 and a three-month supply will cost around $50, according to the company's suggested retail price. 

Where to buy Opill

Opill will be available to purchase without a prescription both online and in-person. There will be no age restrictions on sales, similar to other over-the-counter medications.

The FDA said it expected Opill will be made available at drug stores, convenience stores and grocery stores.

Some retailers may choose to keep the drug behind anti-theft protection. 

This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.