The FDA Still Doesn’t Trust Women
The FDA has a long history of antipathy towards personal testing. The FDA has opposed personal pregnancy tests, HIV tests, genetic tests, and COVID tests, as I discussed in my article Testing Freedom. Well, the FDA is at it again:
NYTimes: At a hearing Tuesday to consider whether the Food and Drug Administration should authorize the country’s first over-the-counter birth control pill, a panel of independent medical experts advising the agency was left to reckon with two contradictory analyses of the medication called Opill.
During the eight-hour session, the manufacturer of the pill, HRA Pharma, which is owned by Perrigo, and representatives of many medical organizations and reproductive health specialists said that data strongly supported approval. They said that Opill, approved as a prescription drug 50 years ago, was safe, effective and easy for women of all ages to use appropriately — and that over-the-counter availability was sorely needed to lower the country’s high rate of unintended pregnancies.
In contrast, F.D.A. scientists questioned the reliability of company data that was intended to show that consumers would take the pill at roughly the same time every day and comply with directions to abstain from sex or temporarily use other birth control if they missed a dose. The agency seemed especially concerned about whether women with breast cancer or unexplained vaginal bleeding would correctly choose not to take Opill and whether adolescents and people with limited literacy would use it accurately.
Note carefully: The FDA isn’t worried that women won’t take the pill at the same time every day they are worried that women who get the pill without a prescription won’t take it at the same time every day. I guess in the FDA’s view women need some mansplaining to take birth control or at least some doctorplaining.
Dr. Westhoff suggested that for most women, there is no advantage to a doctor prescribing the pills because doctors don’t typically monitor patient adherence and often only see such patients once a year.
Similarly, I suspect that women with breast cancer will be concerned enough about their health to read the warning, Don’t Take This Pill if You Have Breast Cancer. Who knows, women with breast cancer might even ask their cancer physician or Google or their GP(T) about what foods and drugs to take and which to avoid.
If I didn’t know the FDA’s long history of opposing personal testing, I would think this simply bizarre but not trusting people with their own health decisions is practically in the FDA’s DNA.