Imagine you’re in a developing country and in need of prescription contraception. You take a pill to prevent pregnancy, but you don’t have access to a proper supply. If you’re like 42 percent of global women, you could end up without access to any form of birth control.
Pfizer is set to take a significant step toward reducing this number, announcing on Thursday that it will license its active ingredient to several Indian companies that produce generic versions of oral contraceptives. In a major push to increase access to women in developing countries, the group will allow its drug to be legally purchased by countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa and parts of South Asia.
“Access to contraception is a global health challenge, and Pfizer stands ready to work with regulatory authorities in countries to put the generic version of Allinol™ on the market,” said Fernando Capellini, chairman of the board of the pharmaceutical company, in a statement. “Covidril also has a pharmacovigilance and responsibility campaign to help reduce and eliminate unintended pregnancies. The goal is to have a broad and direct impact on public health.”
Pfizer said the generic version of its pill would allow governments to provide birth control to women who have had irregular access to safe reproductive health care, or access to pregnancy-related services at public clinics. The tablets contain 600 mg of oral contraceptives and will be available starting in 2020.
Women without access to birth control are left in a very dangerous situation, an uncomfortable situation. It can lead to unsafe abortions or unintended pregnancies, and can also lead to long-term health issues. It can contribute to mothers’ higher risk of obstetric complications. By potentially easing this restriction, Pfizer hopes that women who live in developing countries will finally have access to birth control, which is still a luxury they don’t often have access to.
An estimated 29 million unintended pregnancies in developing countries occur every year. An estimated 11 million of these pregnancies result in complications, according to the World Health Organization. There is evidence to suggest that access to birth control prevents unintended pregnancies, particularly among young girls and adolescent women. But it is still a very dangerous and burdensome practice in many parts of the world.