Health Center aims to negotiate cheaper contraceptives

Female students at TCU can expect a reprieve from the high cost of birth control.

The Health Center is in negotiations with pharmaceutical company Warner Chilcott to offer brand-name contraceptives at a discounted price, said a TCU pharmacist.

Frank Calhoon, chief pharmacist of the Health Center Pharmacy, said the clinic is aiming at a contract with Warner Chilcott this fall.

“Hopefully, that will come to pass,” Calhoon said. “If not, we’re going to work on other contracts.”

Warner Chilcott is a pharmaceutical company specializing in women’s health care and dermatology. The company offers six options of oral contraceptives, according to its Web site.

A provision in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 removed university health clinics from a list that benefitted from preferential prices in brand-name birth control.

Calhoon said generic contraceptives were not affected by the law and are still offered at the university, but brand-name contraceptives are no longer sold at a discounted price. Female students who prefer a brand-name contraceptive, or whose body responds better to a brand-name contraceptive, are not likely to find a generic version of their prescription, Calhoon said.

“Realistically, every woman cannot be on the same birth control pill,” Calhoon said.

Holly Morgan, director of media relations and communications for Planned Parenthood of North Texas, said what most public health advocates fear is that the hike in birth control prices may result in increased unplanned pregnancies.

“Women who were paying $5 to $10 per month are now paying up to $50 to $75 for the same prescription,” Morgan said. “For the college students and low-income women affected by this cost hike, that’s no small matter.”

Some women face the choice between paying for contraception or paying for food, rent or utility bills, Morgan said.

In November, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., introduced a bill that would restore discount prices on pharmaceuticals for university clinics. The bill has not been scheduled for debate yet.

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, was unavailable for comment.