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EC Study Shows Over-the-Counter Availability Is Cost Effective

A new study from the University of Washington, Seattle suggests that making emergency contraceptives (EC) available over-the-counter could save private insurance companies more than $100 and public insurers $50 per person. Results demonstrated that 4.9 percent of women who did not receive EC directly from a pharmacy became pregnant, while just 1.8 percent of women who did receive EC directly over-the-counter became pregnant. In addition, researchers confirmed that 49 percent of pregnancies were unintended, and that 48 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 reported at least one unintended pregnancy during their lifetimes.

The study, published in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Public Health, compared the cost of requiring women to obtain EC with a prescription from a physician or clinic with direct access to the Yuzpe regimen of EC, which contains both estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The project was conducted in 1997 in Washington state, where EC is available without a prescription. California is the only other state with a similar plan, but it is limited only to certain counties.

For more information on Emergency Contraception, visit the Feminist Majority’s Campus Project and the Prescribe Choice Campaign.

Sources:

Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report - September 18, 2001

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