Ortho-McUpdate, Part 2

Ortho-McNeil announces that it will further reduce the cost of birth control pills offered to family-planning clinics.

Published September 1, 2006 7:27PM (EDT)

Since last week we've been following news of major birth control manufacturer Ortho-McNeil's decision to drastically increase the cost of the contraceptives that it supplies to family-planning clinics nationwide. (One brand of pills was originally hiked to $22.01 for a month's supply of pills before the company slightly reduced the cost to $18.76.) Luckily, the encouraging murmurs earlier this week that Ortho might further reduce its prices were true: The manufacturer announced its decision to reduce the charge for a month's supply of pills to $3.20, according to the Kaiser Network. But that's still a far cry from the mere pennies public health programs were previously charged.

Ortho released a statement explaining that the price reduction aims "to meet the needs of women and ensure access to contraceptive choices and work with underfunded public health services." An even further reduction in Ortho's prices would be more than welcome, but, c'mon, the federal government has to pony up at some point. Judith DeSarno, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, told the Charleston Gazette that federal funding for family clinics has stagnated at roughly $283 million for years and that, with a Republican-controlled Congress and White House, added funding is unlikely. But DeSarno said at least Ortho seems to have reevaluated the crucial role it plays in all of this (or the devastating effects of bad press): "The company stepped back and looked at the enormous role they played and all of the sudden, the role reversed and they were the bad guys. I think they didn't want that."

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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