Cost of birth control skyrockets

Is this happening in Pittsburgh, too?

Via Poynter Institute column Al’s Morning Meeting, this article in the Charleston (W.V.) Gazette:

Clinics in West Virginia and across the country providing free birth control to low-income men and women face a possible drought of contraceptive pills and patches after the top supplier drastically raised prices [last] month.

Prices for birth control products from Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc. to public health services leapt from a few pennies to more than $20 in some cases, meaning programs such as West Virginia Family Planning cannot buy the company’s products anymore. …

A 30-day supply of one type of pill that once cost a penny now costs $21.01, [West Virginia family planning program director Denise] Smith said. The Ortho Evra patch ran at $12.15, but now comes in at $22.46. About 4,800 low-income West Virginians got the patch last year, Smith said. …

The national picture looks just as bleak from the perspective of perpetually under-funded public health-care agencies, said Marilyn Keefe, vice president for public policy at National Family Planning Reproductive Health Association, a family planning center advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

“This price increase comes at a terrible time in the life of the public health care system,” she said. “It’s a hope that the company will rethink its decision and reverse those price increases. …”

The company followed federal Medicaid pricing formulas that change every financial quarter, the last being July 1, [Ortho-McNeil spokeswoman Julie] Keenan said. …

Switching birth control pills is not like changing your favorite soda or taking a different route to work. Each pill releases different levels and types of hormones with different effects, Maddox said.


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