Lots of Countries Don’t Require Prescriptions for Oral Contraceptives

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

A few days ago I wrote a post about whether oral contraceptives ought to be available without a prescription. They’re pretty safe, it turns out, and several studies suggest that women are a whole lot more likely to use them continuously if they don’t have to go in for a doctor’s exam every year and aren’t limited to buying just a month’s supply at a time. Anna Reisman adds some more detail to this issue today, but the most intriguing bit came at the very end of her post. It’s a link to a map showing where oral contraceptives require a prescription and where they don’t. Here it is:

Here’s what’s interesting: although prescriptions are required in most of the rich world, there are plenty of middling-income countries where they aren’t, including Portugal, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Greece, Turkey, South Korea, Russia, and several others. Surely this means that loads of data is available about health outcomes where prescriptions aren’t required. Do women in Portugal have a greater number of dangerous pill-related interactions than women in Spain? Do women in South Korea have more allergic reactions than women in Japan? Do women in Greece have more problems with antibiotics than women in Italy?

It’s not surprising that rich countries have more formal regulations in place than less-rich countries. But surely this provides us with a wealth of information about whether there are any systematic negative effects from allowing women access to over-the-counter oral contraceptives. So where are the studies?

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $170,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign that ends Saturday. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $170,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign that ends Saturday. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate