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In a highly significant move, a panel of independent experts on Wednesday voted unanimously that the Food and Drug Administration should approve the first over-the-counter birth control pill, a recommendation that holds the potential to transform the way contraception is delivered in the United States.

After nearly two days of deliberations, the FDA advisory panel voted 17-to-0 after weighing a gamut of data and analyses to assess whether the pill — which was first approved as a prescription medicine decades ago — would be safe, effective and, importantly, easy for women of all ages to use appropriately. The FDA is expected to make a final decision this summer.


The meeting was held amid growing support for an over-the-counter birth control pill to lower a high rate of unintended pregnancies. Perrigo, which manufactures the pill, has estimated that 15 million women in the U.S. — or 20% of those who are of child-bearing age — currently do not use birth control or rely on less effective methods, such as condoms.

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