AUSTIN, Texas American women who live along the U.S.-Mexico border frequently buy over-the-counter oral contraceptives from Mexican pharmacies because they don't need a prescription and can send a friend to pick up the pills, according to a study by researchers from two University of Texas campuses and Ibis Reproductive Health.
The research, conducted in the El Paso-Juarez area, suggests there is demand in the United States for over-the-counter birth control pills and that many U.S. women would buy such contraception without a doctor's prescription if given the option. The findings are being published this week in the American Journal of Public Health.
"The fact that many women in El Paso make use of the cross-border option suggests a substantial latent demand for an over-the-counter option at pharmacies in the United States," says lead author Joseph E. Potter, a professor in the Sociology Department and Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin.
"Since crossing the border can be time-consuming for many, a domestic over-the-counter option would provide even more convenience than the cross-border option that's available in El Paso."
The study's other authors are Kari White and Kristine Hopkins of The University of Texas at Austin, Jon Amastae of the University of Texas at El Paso, and Daniel Grossman of Ibis Reproductive Health, a non-profit research organization based in Cambridge, Mass., and Oakland, Calif.
Women are now required to get a prescription to obtain oral contraceptives in the U.S. But the high prevalence of unwanted pregnancy and mounting evidence about the safety of such pills have led some to call for an over-the-counter option.
Grossman, who also coordinates a group of researchers, clinicians and advocates exploring the feasibility of an over-the-counter option for pills in the U.S., says, "This study gives us a better idea of who might take advantage of the
|Contact: Gary Susswein|
University of Texas at Austin