Birth Control Prices Rise

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

August 3, 2006

A top supplier of contraceptive pills and patches raised their prices last month and now a local clinic is forced to pass it on to consumers. It is going to affect women who can least afford it, women who have no health insurance.

Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc., the supplier of the pill and the patch, increased their prices just last month. In some places around the country the cost to the customer tripled. Locally, the hit hasn't been as bad.

"Planned Parenthood is committed to keeping our costs lower than costs at nearby pharmacies and making sure women are able to access birth control and maintain their prescriptions from month to month," said Becky Reid, of the Blue Ridge Chapter of Planned Parenthood in Charlottesville.

Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood did have to make a change in their price for the patch. As of July it increased from $22 to $35 a month. Officials said the extra expense may be hard on some women, since most of the women Planned Parenthood sees do not have health insurance.

"Any increase in birth control prices is certainly going to create more barriers for women who want to prevent unintended pregnancies to have ongoing coverage with their birth control method," Reid said.

Ortho-McNeil executives said they are following federal pricing formulas that are subject to change every financial quarter. However, Planned Parenthood is planning to negotiate with the drug company for a lower price at the end of this quarter.

Meanwhile, uninsured women will continue to shell out the extra money at least for the next 2 months.

"It's basic health care for women and women shouldn't be forced to pay 68% more out of pocket for their health care than men because they are paying for their birth control out of their pocket," said Reid.

Women who can not afford to take Ortho-McNeil's birth control can switch to a generic version, but Planned Parenthood officials said it's a lot harder than you would think. Each pill releases different levels and types of hormones with different side effects.

The Ortho-McNeil price hike does not affect condoms or birth control shots.

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