199602 Clinic versus over-the-counter access to oral contraception: Choices women make in El Paso, Texas

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 9:10 AM

Joseph E. Potter, PhD , Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Kari White, MA, MPH , Department of Sociology, Population Research Center, University of Texas-Austin, Austin, TX
Kristine Hopkins, PhD , Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Jon Amastae, PhD , Center for Inter-American and Border Studies, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
Daniel Grossman, MD , Ibis Reproductive Health, Oakland, CA
In Mexico, oral contraceptives (OCs) are available from pharmacies without a prescription, while in the US, a prescription is required. The Border Contraceptive Access Study assessed the motivations for, and impact of, obtaining oral contraceptives (OCs) from US public clinics or over-the-counter (OTC) from Mexican pharmacies among women in El Paso, Texas.

To understand why some women prefer obtaining OCs at Mexican pharmacies, versus US family planning clinics, and which women take advantage of the OTC option, we asked clinic (n=533) and pharmacy users (n=515) about their recent pill use, motivations for choosing their source, and satisfaction with their OC source and brand.

We found significant differences between the groups in the types of pills used and number of packs obtained. In regression analysis, older women and those born and educated in Mexico were more likely to be pharmacy users. Cost of OCs was the main motivation for choosing their source for 40% of pharmacy users and 23% of clinic users. Approximately half of clinic users reported other health services available at clinics as an advantage, while not having to see a doctor for a prescription was the most important advantage for 27% of pharmacy users. Despite differences between the groups, over 70% were very satisfied with both their pill source and brand.

Women of different ages, parities, and varying educational levels would likely take advantage of an OTC option were OCs available throughout the US at low cost. The findings also suggest ways to improve clinic provision of OCs.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the patterns of OC use among women in El Paso who choose to obtain their method in a US clinic or a Mexican pharmacy 2. List the factors associated with obtaining OCs over the counter in Mexico 3. Identify women’s motivations for choosing their source of OCs 4. Discuss the relevance of these findings to the potential availability of hormonal contraception over the counter in the US

Keywords: Contraceptives, Hispanic

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have several years' experience working on women's reproductive health and health care access, and a degree in public health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.