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Drug watchdogs give combined pill the thumbs up

Clinical The European Medicines Agency and the MHRA have advised women that there is little risk of developing blood clots when taking the contraceptive

The MHRA has advised women to continue taking combined hormonal contraceptives (CHCs) in response to the European medicines watchdog's finding that the risk of blood clots do not outweigh the drugs' benefits.  

CHCs were very safe and highly effective medicines, the MHRA said on Friday (October 11), in response to a review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that concluded that the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) was small.  

There was no reason for women who were using the contraceptives to stop, the EMA said last week. However women needed to be better informed about the risks of thromboembolism and doctors needed to consider the risks to individual patients before prescribing, it said. The MHRA agreed that women should continue to take their contraceptive pills.


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"This review simply confirms what we already know: that the risk of blood clots with all combined hormonal contraceptives is small," said Sarah Branch, deputy director of the MHRA's vigilance and risk management of medicines division.


Women should speak to their GP or contraceptive provider if they have any concerns, Dr Branch added, but continue taking the pill in the meantime.  

The EMA's pharmacovigilance risk assessment committee (PRAC), which carried out the review following a request from France in February this year, found that the risk of VTE differed between products, depending on the type of progestogen they contain. The risk was lowest among CHCs containing levonorgestrel, norgestimate and norethisterone and highest among those containing etonogestrel, norelgestromin, gestodene, desogestrel and drospirenone.   

The MHRA said it would produce updated guidance about prescribing CHCs and the risk of blood clots after the EMA had finished its review in mid-November.



Have you encountered complications in women taking CHCs?

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