Investment Profile

Cadence Health Inc.

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In the United States, women have needed a prescription from a doctor to secure access to oral contraception—a barrier for many that Cadence is seeking to overcome by bringing to market low-cost over-the-counter contraceptive pills.
A packet of contraceptive pills
A one-month dosage of hormonal birth control pills. © Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Shutterstock
Investment size $5.5M
Theme Gender Justice
Type Direct
Geography United States
Date 2020

Theory of Change

This investment aims to support a landmark shift in women’s reproductive health in the U.S. in favor of affordable access for women. The approval of an affordable over-the-counter oral contraceptive in the U.S. may pave the way for similar steps in other countries where governments and regulators continue to obstruct women’s reproductive rights.

Challenge and Context

Women in the U.S. and in other countries around the world can still face significant barriers in securing access to birth control. This includes the oral contraceptive pill, the most popular contraceptive choice among American women but one that remains available on a prescription-only basis and at largely unaffordable price points for low-income women. Lack of access to contraceptives is a principal cause of unintended pregnancies, which in turn leads to poorer access to education and higher paying employment, trapping women in a cycle of poverty and lack of opportunity.


Cadence is a U.S. pharmaceutical company founded in 2014 to lead the over-the-counter initiative for development and distribution of oral contraceptives without the need for a doctor’s prescription. The switch of the birth control pill from prescription-only to over the counter is supported by major medical organizations such as The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Medical Association, and American Academy of Family Physicians.

Cadence is seeking to bring a product to market that meets the strict labeling and consumer testing requirements of the U.S. Federal Drug Administration.


Increased access to contraception for women living in low-income or marginalized communities.


The investment aligns with the advocacy and grant giving on reproductive justice of the Open Society Foundations.

Learn more about Open Society’s Women’s Rights Program