Over-the-Counter Pill Provision: Evidence from Jamaica



Although many countries allow over-the-counter distribution of oral contraceptives, doubt remains about whether such provision is safe for the user. The greatest concern is whether women with contraindications for use are given access to the pill. Clearly, women without such contraindications should be given access to it and be offered adequate information about its correct use. In 15 pharmacies in Jamaica, mystery clients approached pharmacists to determine their willingness to sell oral contraceptives and to solicit information from them about correct use of the method. In addition to data from mystery-client observations, interviews were conducted with 78 pharmacists and with 524 pharmacy customers who bought oral contraceptives, providing complementary information about knowledge of, attitudes toward, and experiences with the method. Analysis of the combined findings suggests that over-the-counter provision of oral contraceptives is a safe, practical, and effective method of distribution in Jamaica.