Saturday, December 02, 2006

Advance Supply of Pill Found To Be Beneficial

Having a 13-month supply of birth control pills leads to better contraceptive coverage with less inconvenience and expense:

Washington, DC -- Providing women with a longer, advance supply of oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) results in fewer gaps in usage, longer-term contraceptive use, and less expense to health care providers and patients when compared with prescriptions that require multiple office visits or refills, according to a study in the November issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Dispensing a 13-month supply of birth control pills at a single health care visit may help curb the discontinuation and imperfect use of OCPs, a leading cause of unintended pregnancy.

Researchers looked at more than 82,000 women who received birth control pills free of charge through the California Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment (PACT) Program. Women were given a complete one, three, or 13-month supply of OCPs either at a single health care visit or with a one-time prescription to be filled at a pharmacy. Women who received 13 cycles were 28% more likely to continue using oral contraceptives after 15 months than women who obtained a three-month supply. They also experienced fewer gaps in OCP coverage than women prescribed shorter cycles (16% and 19% with one and three cycles had gaps vs. 4% with 13 cycles).

Women who received a 13-month supply were more likely to have annual Pap and chlamydia tests (74%) than women who received fewer cycles (57%). Women given fewer cycles also were more likely to have at least one pregnancy test over the course of the year (45% and 46% with one and three cycles vs. 25% of women receiving 13 cycles), suggesting a greater perceived risk of pregnancy, possibly due to gaps in coverage.

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