I’ve been an advocate for women’s health and choice for more than 20 years. In my role as CEO of Medicines360, a global non-profit women’s health pharmaceutical company, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with clinicians on a range of family planning topics. I visited the Medical Students for Choice office in Philadelphia earlier this fall and learned about its members’ impressive pro-choice organizing and training work across the country.
While I was in Philadelphia, I gave a talk to a group of medical students at my alma mater, Thomas Jefferson University. Part of my talk focused on Medicines360 and our non-profit business model designed to expand family planning options. Medicines360’s mission is to expand access to quality medicines for women regardless of their socioeconomic status, insurance coverage, or geographic location. Today, we do this by providing our first product LILETTA®, a 52 mg levonorgestrel IUD, to all clinics in the US and for a special low price to 340B safety-net clinics.
While the abortion rate in the U.S. has reached a historic low, it hasn’t declined equally across all income levels. The proportion of abortion patients living at or below the poverty level increased by 15% between 2000 and 2010, from an already disproportionately high rate.[i] We also know that women presenting for an abortion are at high risk for subsequent unintended pregnancies. Around half of all abortions in the United States are among women who have already had at least one abortion.[ii]
That’s why making affordable contraception available to women immediately after their abortions is so important. Several studies have shown that immediate post-abortion provision of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) helps reduce high rates of unintended pregnancy and multiple abortions.[iii],[iv],[v]
But when LARCs, including IUDs, are too expensive for clinics to stock them, or too expensive for uninsured patients to afford them out of pocket, they aren’t a realistic option. Medicines360 believes that the most effective forms of birth control should be within reach for all women. To date we have supplied more than 100,000 units of our product to over 780 safety net clinics.
I’ve been fortunate to work with Medical Students for Choice alumni across the U.S., including some of the principal investigators in Medicines360’s pivotal ACCESS-IUS clinical study. MSFC alumna Dr. Carrie Cwiak told me that, “MSFC encouraged me early on to pursue issues in my career that are important to me, like being a principal investigator for the ACCESS-IUS trial.” I’m grateful for the role MSFC has played in empowering Dr. Cwiak and others to improve patient access and outcomes.
Medical Students for Choice and Medicines360 both understand the value of offering every women a full range of reproductive health options. While MSFC works to guarantee access to abortion, M360 works to expand access to contraceptive options, including for post-abortive women. I invite you to learn how Medicine360’s work fits into your work to protect women’s reproductive health options at www.medicines360.org.
[i] Jones RK, Finer LB and Singh S, Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients, 2008, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2010.
[ii] Jones RK, Singh S, Finer LB, Frohwirth LF. Repeat abortion in the United States. Occasional Report No. 29. New York: Guttmacher Institute; 2006.
[iii] Heikinheimo O, Gissler M, Suhonen S. Age, parity, history of abortion and contraceptive choices affect the risk of repeated abortion. Contraception 2008; 78:149–54.
[iv] Goodman S, Henlish SK, Reeves MF, Foster-Rosales A. Impact of immediate postabortal insertion of intrauterine contraception on repeat abortion. Contraception 2008; 78:143–8.
[v] Langston, Aileen M., Sophie L. Joslin-Roher, and Carolyn L. Westhoff. “Immediate postabortion access to IUDs, implants and DMPA reduces repeat pregnancy within 1 year in a New York City practice.” Contraception 89.2 (2014): 103-108.