Ortho-McNeil to lower the price of contraceptive pills and patches

Ortho-McNeil - which supplies contraceptives to the majority of family planning clinics nationwide - on Thursday announced it will lower the price of its contraceptive pills and patches, according to officials, the Chicago Tribune reports (Napolitano, Chicago Tribune, 8/26).

According to WV Family Planning Program Director Denise Smith, West Virginia's cost of a 30-day supply of one type of contraceptive pill made by Ortho last month increased from one cent to $21.01, and the cost of the company's Ortho Evra patch increased from $12.15 to $22.46.

The company provided more than 75% of contraceptive pills to the state program, which contracts with private health clinics statewide, and it is the only provider to the state of the birth control patch. Smith in July said that officials are exploring generic birth control options but that the associated bidding process could take about two months (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 8/17).

According to a company statement, "The organization has decided to further lower pricing to meet the needs of women and ensure access to contraceptive choices and work with underfunded public health services."

Ortho spokesperson Julie Keenan said that the company will not say more about the pricing but added that the price for clinics is not tied to retail prices.

According to health experts, the price increase would have impacted the 4,500 family planning clinics nationally that depend on a federal program that lowers the cost of drugs for public health entities.

Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, public policy director for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, said that the promised price decrease is a "huge victory for family planning clinics across the country" (Chicago Tribune, 8/26).

West Virginia

WVFPP received approval to skip the bidding process and purchase a three-month supply of birth control pills and 7,000 patches from the company, Smith said.

"Until we get some additional funding we're not going to be clear, but we can be a little more patient while the department (of Health and Human Resources) looks for funding," Smith said, adding, "We know our patients will be cared for. But the product is not on the shelf yet, and I probably won't breathe easy until then" (Associated Press, 8/25).

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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