Third generation contraceptive pills much riskier

April 22nd, 2011 - 4:52 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 22 (IANS) Tens of thousands of women should reconsider use of the so-called third generation contraceptive pill to reduce the risk of a potential blood clot.

Women taking so-called third generation contraceptive pills, developed in the 1980s, are up to three times more likely to suffer a blood clot than those who use older varieties, according to new research based on British and US records.

With no other real advantages of the newer drug, scientists said it would be “prudent” to make the older pills the “first line of choice”.

Scientists say doctors should prescribe pills that contain the hormone levonorgestrel, rather than drospirenone, the British Medical Journal reports.

Susan Jicks of Boston University School of Medicine and colleagues carried out two studies into the two types of birth control drugs and found the difference in threat was dramatic, according to the Telegraph.

They said their findings “provide further evidence that levonorgestrel oral contraceptives appear to be a safer choice”.

Around three million women in Britain are thought to take the pill to prevent pregnancy, and 100 million worldwide. While all types of the oral contraceptive increase the risk of a clot, some are worse than others.

The debate first started in October 1995 when scientists warned women taking the third generation pill such as Yasmin - which has around 750,000 prescriptions issued a year - were at greater risk of developing blood clots in the deep veins of the legs or the pelvis.

Called venous thromboembolism (VTE), the clots can be fatal if they move inside the circulatory system and lodge in the lungs.

In the first study, based on US medical claims data, the researchers found a twofold increased risk of a non-fatal blood clot in women using pills containing the hormone drospirenone compared with women using the older ones which have levonorgestrel.

This risk remained even after taking account of other possible causes.

The actual incidence rates were 30.8 for every 100,000 women years using the drospirenone pill and 12.5 per 100,000 women years using the levonorgestrel pill.

The second study, using data from the UK General Practice Research Database, found a threefold increased risk of a first non-fatal blood clot in women using drospirenone pills oral compared with those on the levonorgestrel ones.

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