Fluke Said Friend 'Couldn't Afford' $100 for Cyst-Fighting Birth Control Pill -- Target Sells Cyst-Fighting Pill for $9

By Gregory Gwyn-Williams, Jr. | March 7, 2012 | 1:32pm EST

Law student Sandra Fluke. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke testified that she knows a woman at the school who stopped taking birth control pills to treat Polycysctic Ovarian Syndrome because she could not afford “months of paying over $100 out of pocket” and, as a result, developed a large cyst and had an ovary surgically removed. However, there is a Target store 3 miles from Georgetown Law that sells the birth control pills for $9 per month for people without health insurance.

Fluke, 30, who is a reproductive rights activist, was the only witness to testify on Feb. 23 before an all-Democratic panel chaired by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Fluke said she was there to speak in favor of the Obamacare regulation that requires all health insurers to provide abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilizations free of charge. Fluke did not name any of the persons about whom she testified.

At the panel, Fluke said, “A friend of mine, for example, has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and she has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries. Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown's insurance because it's not intended to prevent pregnancy. Unfortunately, under many religious institutions' insurance plans, it wouldn't be. There would be no exception for other medical needs. … For my friend, and 20 percent of the women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription. Despite verification of her illness from her doctor, her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted birth control to prevent pregnancy.”

Fluke continued: “She’s gay, so clearly Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy for her. After months of paying over $100 out of pocket, she just couldn't afford her medication anymore, and she had to stop taking it. … Without her taking the birth control, a massive cyst the size of a tennis ball had grown on her ovary. She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary as a result.”

After some investigation, CNSNews.com learned that a person without health insurance can get access to birth control pills at a cost of $9 per month at a Target store pharmacy that is 3 miles from the Georgetown Law school. The Target store offers the generic form of birth control pills for a total cost of $9 for a month’s supply.

The drug is called Tri-Sprintec and it is the generic form of the brand name Ortho Tri-Cyclen.  Both drugs are FDA-approved and chemically identical to one another, and doctors routinely prescribe each drug to treat Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

(AP Photo)

According to Dr. Donna Harrison, an OB/GYN and the director of research and public policy for the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), the generic birth control pill “Tri-Sprintec is chemically identical to the brand-name drug, Ortho Tri-Cyclen.”

Dr. Harrison also told  CNSNews.com that “both Ortho Tri-Cyclen and its generic version, Tri-Sprintec, are prescribed to treat Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.”

Dr. Harrison said that if a patient can take the brand-name drug, they can take the generic form as well.

In the January 2004 journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology is an article on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome that, in its abstract, says, “These conditions can be treated directly with oral contraceptives [birth control pills], oral contraceptives plus spironolactone, and ovulation induction, respectively.”

In the 2007 article Current Approaches to the Diagnosis and Treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in Youth, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, it states that oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) can be used to treat Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It further states that “most pediatric endocrinologists still prefer to use OCPs with low androgenic potential such as Demulen 1/50 … Ortho-Tri-Cyclen (FDA approved for treatment of acne in women) or Yasmin ….”

Also, in the 2006 book, The Handbook of Contraception: A Guide for Practical Management, it states that oral contraceptives (OCs),  birth control pills, “are associated with many non-contraceptive benefits and the identification of conditions that may be improved with OC use,” and then lists pertinent gynecological issues, including “Polycystic ovary syndrome, recurrent ovarian cysts.”

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama at the White House on Feb. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Then on p. 59 of the handbook it lists numerous OCs and details about the drugs, including Ortho-Cyclen, Sprintec, and Ortho Tri-Cyclen.

DailyMed, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Web site, has a Drug Label section that users can access to educate themselves on the descriptions and uses of a particular drug.

The NIH Web site says the following:

ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN: Each white tablet contains 0.180 mg of the progestational compound, norgestimate (18,19-Dinor-17-pregn-4-en-20-yn-3-one,17-(acetyloxy)-13-ethyl-, oxime,(17α)-(+)-) and 0.035 mg of the estrogenic compound, ethinyl estradiol (19-nor-17α-pregna,1,3,5(10)-trien-20-yne-3,17-diol). Inactive ingredients include carnauba wax, croscarmellose sodium, hypromellose, lactose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, purified water and titanium dioxide.

TRI-SPRINTEC: Each gray tablet contains 0.18 mg of the progestational compound, norgestimate (18, 19-Dinor-17-pregn-4-en-20-yn-3-one,17-(acetyloxy)-13-ethyl-oxime, (17α)-(+)-) and 0.035 mg of the estrogenic compound, ethinyl estradiol (19-nor-17α-pregna, 1,3,5(10)-trien-20-yne-3, 17-diol), and the inactive ingredients include anhydrous lactose, lactose monohydrate, lake blend black LB 636 (ingredients include aluminum sulfate solution, aluminum-chloride solution, FD&C blue no. 2, FD&C red no. 40, FD&C yellow no. 6, sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate), magnesium stearate, and pregelatinized starch.

Dr. David A. Schutzer, a board-certified OB/GYN who practices Obstetrics and Gynecology in Fayetteville, N.C., also told CNSNews.com that “Tri-Sprintec is chemically identical to the brand-name drug Ortho Tri-Cyclen and both drugs can be prescribed to treat Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.”

Fluke also testified, “Recently, another woman told me that she also has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and she's struggling to pay for her medication and is terrified not to have access to it.”

“Due to the barriers erected by Georgetown's policy, she hasn't been reimbursed for her medication since last August,” said Fluke.  “I sincerely pray that we don't have to wait until she loses an ovary or is diagnosed with cancer before her needs and the needs of all of these women are taken seriously.”

MRC Store