July 17, 2008

Birth Control Skyrockets at AU Clinic

By Brittany Whitley, Opelika-Auburn News, Ala.

Jul. 17--Women returning to Auburn University after summer vacation are in for a shock.

Birth control at the university's pharmacy has skyrocketed from around $10 a pack to approximately $50, said Nancy Kickliter, director of the AU Medical Clinic Pharmacy.

The increase is triggered by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, a law that aims to reduce the national deficit. It had the effect of cutting university and non-profit clinics off from low-cost drugs.

"The government decided they had to reduce the budget somewhere ...," Kickliter said. "As a result of that, manufacturers of medicine were no longer allowed to offer discounts."

The measure went into effect in December, but the AU pharmacy had enough discounted birth control stockpiled to last until April, she said.

But now, as stockpiles become depleted, many students are opting out of birth control, she said.

"I think it could have an effect on pregnancy," Kickliter said.

Sexually transmitted diseases could also rise, because many woman may skip their annual exam, she said.

"If they do not see a reason for birth control, they will see no reason for their annual pap visit," she said.

Kickliter recommends that students affected by the price increase research different types of generic birth control pills, which sell for about $25 a pack.

Students can also get discounted birth control from the Lee County Health Department, where services are priced on a sliding scale based on income.

"They are welcome to come here and get their birth control," Lisa Jones, clinic coordinator at the Lee County Health Department, said.

Jones said a lot of students without insurance already come to the health department for birth control.

"We do what we can," Jones said. "We don't turn anybody away."

The health department and Mercy Medical Clinic for Family Care are not affected by the legislation.


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