life stories

the center of the universe is the brain

Contents vs Package

I suspect when the birth control pill was first introduced to the public, the male doctors behind the scenes were having intense discussions about how it would be packaged.

“You know, Joe, the girls will need a way to remind them to take the pill once a day. They can’t possibly keep track of it themselves.”

“You’re right, Jim. We’ll find a way to package the pills individually. Maybe in a cute, discrete, pink dispenser that she can carry in her purse.”

“And what about that week off the pill? You know she won’t remember to stop after three weeks and restart on the fifth week.”

“Good point.”

“Oh, this should work. We’ll add a week of sugar pills. Tell them the church made us do it.”

Joe pulls open the bottom drawer by the lab table and opens the bottle of scotch. They toast to their new world of sex without consequences.

Now, 40+ years later, women still suffer the condescension that is the packaging for birth control pills. Every three months I buy a box that holds three smaller boxes each of which hold thick pamphlets printed on thin paper, a faux suede case for the bubble pack of pills, and said bubble pack of pills. Each pill is surrounded by impenetrable plastic on the top side and foil that will not be separated from the plastic on the bottom side.

Three rows of little yellow pills and one row of fake little white pills. I puncture each bubble with some amount of aggravation and put the yellow pills into a nice, easy to open bottle. It’s not labeled either!

As the cost of the birth control pill has risen at an outrageous rate over the last ten years, I have become more irritated by this packaging. I asked the pharmacist if my prescription could be ordered in a bottle with only active pills. Not an option. I know that some of the price increase is due to the deficit reduction act (seriously). That increase could have been off-set by reducing the amount of packaging.

It would bring me so much joy to not have to face a 1960’s attitude toward birth control every time I filled my prescription. Beyond my selfish attitude about being inconvenienced, lower costs for the pill equates to wider use which in turn means fewer unwanted pregnancies which reduces the number of women and children living in poverty.

Please, dear pharmaceutical companies, consider the impact you could have by changing the packaging of your birth control pills. Reduce waste. Reduce poverty. Change the world.

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