Many CVS drug plans cowl the over-the-counter contraception capsule Opill totally free

In this picture, a pack of Opill is on display in San Anselmo, California, March 22, 2024.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

CVS Health said Thursday that its drug plans will cover the first over-the-counter birth control pill in the U.S. at no cost to many health insurance sponsors, a move that could open the door for more people to prevent unwanted pregnancies without a prescription.

The company's pharmaceutical benefit manager, CVS Caremark, said the pill will be added to the list of oral contraceptives for preventative services and will be covered at no cost to many sponsors. The drug, known as Opill from Perrigowas available in pharmacies starting April 1, according to a pharmacy update from CVS Caremark last week seen by CNBC.

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) maintain lists of medications covered by health insurance and negotiate drug discounts with manufacturers. At most stores, Opill costs $19.99 for a one-month supply and $49.99 for a three-month supply.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Perrigo's drug in July. It's the first time many U.S. residents will be able to buy birth control pills over the counter, just as they would buy traditional pills like Tylenol or Advil.

The drug could significantly expand contraceptive availability, particularly for younger women and women in rural and underserved communities who often have difficulty accessing contraceptive methods.

Medical organizations estimate that 45% of the 6 million annual pregnancies in the United States are unintended.

The pill's launch is a victory for the Biden administration, which has sought to strengthen reproductive rights as abortion restrictions increase in many states.

The Supreme Court's decision, the landmark Roe v. Repealing Wade more than a year ago, which ended 50 years of federal abortion rights, has led to declining availability of the procedure nationwide and renewed calls for expanded access to contraception.

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