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Year Supply of Oral Contraceptives Encourages Use

A 13-month pill supply also reduces costs

FRIDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Dispensing a year's supply of oral contraceptive pills promotes continuation of use and also reduces costs compared to dispensing fewer cycles at a time, researchers report in the Nov. 1 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Diana G. Foster, Ph.D., and colleagues from the University of California San Francisco, analyzed paid claims data on 82,319 women who received oral contraceptive pills through the California Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment (PACT) Program in 2003.

When client characteristics were controlled, the women who received 13 cycles were 28 percent more likely than those who received three cycles to have oral contraceptive pills on hand and twice as likely to have sufficient contraceptive pill cycles for 15 months of continuous use. And although more women prescribed a year's supply of pills wasted more of their medication (6.5 percent of cycles versus 2 percent of cycles for those prescribed three cycles), they were more likely to sign up for Pap and Chlamydia tests and were less likely to have a pregnancy test than women prescribed fewer cycles.

Savings became apparent over the course of one year: Family PACT paid $99 more for women who were initially prescribed three cycles, and $44 more for those who received only one cycle versus those prescribed 13 cycles at first visit.

"Given the potentially large influence of dispensing quantities on method continuation, this study is a first step toward identifying changes in physician prescribing behavior and health care administration policy that can improve continuation of oral contraceptives and reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancy among oral contraceptive pill users," the authors conclude.

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