The Pill -- now more delicious

Today: chewable, flavored pills. Tomorrow: a yummy gel center?

Published December 8, 2006 11:28PM (EST)

Huh. Here's some good news for women who like hormonal contraception but have trouble swallowing pills (even the teeny weeny Pill): The Associated Press reports that Pfizer subsidiary Warner Chilcott is now making chewable birth-control pills. Spearmint-flavored ones.

Anything that helps women remember to take their pills on time will help prevent unintended pregnancy, and if a chewable consistency and minty goodness do the trick, we're all for the innovation. The new chewable Femcon Fe seems pretty low-risk, as pills go; it's apparently just like Ovcon35, an estrogen-progestin combo that's been on the market about 30 years. The early marketing for Femcon Fe seems a little hyper, though. The pills are billed as being better for women on the go, who want to carry their pill packs with them, presumably because gulping down the regular kind on the go is inconvenient if there's no water handy. But the AP notes that "women must drink 8 ounces of water with the [chewable] tablet," too, so I'm not sure where the added convenience comes from, except for those who prefer not to swallow pills, or maybe those who like to have their daily pill and a breath mint at the same time. The pills are also being touted for their possible appeal to flaky young women; Lee Shulman, an OB-GYN and the chairman of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, told the AP, "I think it is a better approach in the group of women who have a very high rate of unintended pregnancy, which is younger women." Which, again, great. But anyone who ever snacked illicitly on Flintstone's Children's vitamins might share my concern that young women who have trouble remembering to take pills at the right time each day might not benefit from those pills being made tasty. It's also possible that young women will notice that the special tasty Pill is a little infantilizing.

These quibbles aside, it is great if women who have trouble with the traditional Pill have more options. Ultimately, Shulman puts it best: "This isn't a great leap forward, but I think this is a helpful step," he told the AP.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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