Emergency contraception goes over-the-counter

March 31, 2014
2 min read

In a significant move that will have wide ranging effects on the industry, the FDA ruled earlier this month that companies can develop generic versions of emergency contraception that can also be sold over-the-counter. This will widen women’s access to this product while helping the struggling female contraceptives segment. The popular morning-after contraceptive Plan B is now sold over-the-counter, and was previously the only option available, but it is expensive and can be cost prohibitive, costing upwards of $50.

What We’ve Seen

Mintel’s Contraceptives—US 2013 report finds that the female contraceptives segment, which is predominantly made up of emergency contraceptive products, experienced a big drop in sales in the past two years. During 2012-13 alone, sales fell by 16%. When asked about their attitudes around contraception, only 37% of respondents agreed that it’s important to be personally responsible for contraception.

In the past few years, Plan B, better known as “the morning after pill,” has been a key focus of government officials as well as women’s health advocates. Before 2013, though Plan B could be acquired through a pharmacist, women were usually required to show identification indicating that they were at least 17 years old. However, in April 2013, a district judge ruled that Plan B should be made available over-the-counter without age restrictions and then starting in August 2013, the court ruled to allow girls of any age to buy emergency contraception without a prescription and that Plan B would be stocked on store shelves.

What It Means

This could have significant implications for the female contraceptives segment. Making generic versions of Plan B more widely available will help expand women’s access to emergency contraception and could help grow the female contraceptives segment. The new generic emergency contraception options will be less expensive than Plan B, costing around $40, making the segment more competitive. Overall, it’s likely that the government will continue to expand access to contraceptive products for women and this could help grow the larger contraceptives market.

Gabriela brings a strong background in marketing strategy, innovation, and consumer research to Mintel, where she leverages her knowledge across the home and personal care series of reports, as well as related household, consumer packaged goods, and beauty reports.

Gaby Elani
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