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Some birth control may raise clot risk

Feb 6, 2007 | AP

Certain low-dose birth control pills increase a woman's risk of a potentially deadly blood clot more than others and should be pulled off the market, a consumer group said Tuesday.

All contraceptive pills carry a very low risk of blood clots that, even more rarely, can travel to the lungs and kill. It is a side effect of the pills' hormones, estrogen and progestin.

But "third-generation" oral contraceptives that contain a type of progestin called desogestrel can double that risk, the advocacy group Public Citizen said in a petition filed with the Food and Drug Administration that seeks to stop the sale of just those newer pills.

That means about 30 blood clots per 100,000 users, compared with 15 blood clots per 100,000 users of older "second-generation" birth control pills that are just as effective, Public Citizen said.

It's not a new issue: Labels of desogestrel-containing birth control pills already list that increased risk in fine-print warnings of side effects. And in 1995, Britain's drug regulators sparked a pill scare by issuing warnings about the same progestin, which sold overseas for years before hitting the U.S. market.

But Public Citizen contended that after years of research showing no extra benefit for desogestrel-containing contraceptives, it was time for users to switch to older, safer birth control pills. It was posting a video explaining the petition on YouTube to get that message to younger pill users.

"FDA will carefully review the petition," said agency spokeswoman Susan Cruzan.


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