Keep over the counter access to female condoms
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After a recent merger with Aspen Park Pharmaceuticals, The Female Health Company DBA Veru Healthcare, the makers of the female condom, also known as FC2, has announced that the product will no longer be available over the counter. Female condoms will only be available by prescription only and will also cost more per unit to those who are uninsured.
In an interview with thebody.com, Veru's Chief Commercial Officer, Brian Groch, said that the company is hoping that moving female condoms to a prescription model will help increase sales and awareness about the product. "The company is hoping to take advantage of the birth control benefits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and increase use of the method by getting providers involved in the process. Advocates, however, note that this move comes with a hefty price increase that could leave the uninsured with no access to the condom" (thebody.com). Upcoming changes to the Affordable Care Act may also put coverage for these condoms in jeopardy.
Female condoms allow individuals to have an option for an internal barrier to protect against STIs and pregnancy by preventing exchange of bodily fluids and blocking skin to skin contact (HIVplusmag.com). While the FDA has only approved FC2 condoms for vaginal sex, there are many people who use these condoms for anal sex as well. Customers are currently able to access female condoms over the counter just like they can male condoms. However, female condoms are significantly different in pricing than male condoms with an average of $3.50 per condom.
Veru's decision to remove female condoms from pharmacy aisles may seem like a logical business move, but will only increase the disproportionate access to those in need. It is also uncertain if female condoms will be available by prescription for males since the FDA has only approved use for females. Thebody.com estimates female condoms to have a price increase of up to $20 per condom for those who do not have insurance. In an interview with thebody.com, Natalie Cramer, Senior Director of the Prevention and Care Program and Policy at the National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), said "I think there are a lot of steps that would need to happen to make sure this would be covered even in the best-case scenario where everyone had health insurance."
With STI rates increasing and HIV/AIDS still remaining prevalent, advocates are worried that individuals with the greatest need will not have access to protection. Jessica Terlikowski, of the Chicago AIDS Foundation, told thebody.com: "The decision is particularly staggering given that the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and family planning programs are on the chopping block. If Republicans get their way, these programs will be gutted leaving the only receptive partner-initiated barrier method out of reach for people living with and vulnerable to HIV."
Non-profits and STI clinics will continue to have access to female condoms without a prescription, but the cost per unit will increase. In the current state, clinics and non-profits have a disproportionate amount of female condoms in stock as opposed to male condoms due to the cost. The price increase will not only make it harder for agencies to provide access to female condoms, but will increase the vulnerability to STIs and pregnancy to consumers.
Policies and procedures have been historically used to prevent minorities equal access to products and services. This is a plea to Veru Healthcare, Mitchell Steiner, Brian Groch, and Aspen Park Pharmaceuticals to continue over the counter access to female condoms, find other ways to create awareness of the product, and to lower the cost per unit.
Please sign and share this petition.
Additionally, you may also contact Vera Healthcare by the information provided below:
The Female Health Company
4400 Biscayne Blvd, Suite 888
Miami, FL 33137
Phone: 1-800-274-6601 or 1-305-509-6897
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