Due to price increases, West Virginian family planning clinics will only be able to give low-income women and students birth control pills and patches for free for about another month. Ortho-McNeil, the manufacturer of a popular birth control pill and the only maker of the birth control patch, announced last month that it would be raising the prices of these contraceptives from just $0.01 to $21.01 for the pill and from $12.15 to $22.46 for the patch. Ortho-McNeil provides 75 percent of all birth control pills and 100 percent of all birth control patches to West Virginia’s family planning clinics, which used the low prices to distribute birth control to low-income women and students around the state for free.
Family planning advocates are upset by the cost increase, which will make it impossible to continue the free distribution of birth control to women in need. Ortho-McNeil claims that the price increase is standard by federal pricing formulas, but family planning advocates argue out that Ortho-McNeil has control over the price of its contraceptives and could continue to make them affordable, according to the Charleston Gazette.
West Virginia officials are looking into using generic birth-control methods to replace the Ortho-McNeil contraceptives, but the bidding process could take several months. When family planning clinics run out of birth control supplies in a month, as predicted, doctors will be forced to give birth control prescriptions, which many low-income women and students will not be able to afford to fill.