Pharmaceutical

Women should be aware of blood clot risk with birth control pills, patches

The recent recommendations from a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee about safety concerns with contraceptives may make women more leery when deciding which birth control is best for them. But even for women who are currently on birth control, understanding the risks is vital.

Late last year, FDA advisory committees reviewed studies which suggested that birth control pills containing the hormone drospirenone put women at greater risk for blood clots than pills made with older-generation hormones. Blood clots are serious health problems because they can break loose and travel to the heart, lungs or brain causing serious complications or death.

Oral contraceptives that contain drospirenone are the top selling Yaz and Yasmin, as well as Safyral, Beyaz (all made by Bayer) and generics Gianvi, Loryna, Ocella, Syeda, and Zarah.

These claims have resulted in thousands of lawsuits against Bayer by women who say they were not adequately warned that using drospirenone-containing pills could put their life at risk.

The FDA committee fell short of recommending that the pills be banned, instead advising that stronger labels be placed on the pills.

The committee also recommended that stronger warnings be placed on the Ortho Evra birth control patch, made by Johnson & Johnson. Studies have linked the patch to high numbers of blood clots.

While many otherwise healthy women have suffered health problems as result of these contraceptives, experts say women with specific risk factors should probably avoid them altogether. This includes women with blood clotting disorders or a family history of blood clotting, smokers, and women over the age of 35.

Perhaps the best advice is to consider alternatives to birth control pills and patches. Options include the hormone shots and the increasingly popular intrauterine devices (IUDs), which are made in both hormone and non-hormone forms. And there are always more traditional methods, such as condoms, contraceptives sponges and diaphragms.

Source: Everyday Health