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Experts Weigh The Risks, Side Effects Of Oral Birth Control Pills

Experts Weigh The Risks, Side Effects Of Oral Birth Control Pills

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Regulators around the world are taking a closer look at birth control pills that may expose women to an increased risk of blood clots and strokes. Many product liability lawsuits have arisen out of the newer forms of birth control pills, which are known as third- and fourth-generation pills. Reuters reports that many medical experts consider the newer forms of these pills to be more dangerous than their predecessors.

Concerns over newer, higher-risk birth control pills have caused French health regulators to call for the country to stop reimbursing the prescription costs for these contraceptives. France will no longer reimburse insurers for these pills beginning March 31. The country typically reimburses 100 percent of the cost of birth control pills.

The European Medicines Agency also says that the risk of a blood clot doubles when women opt to use a newer form of oral contraceptive compared with the older versions.

One of the most heavily litigated oral contraceptives is the Yasmin/Yaz birth control pill manufactured by German pharmaceutical giant Bayer. The drug company has already paid $750 million to settle 3,490 Yasmin blood clot lawsuits. Another 200 million euros have been set aside in the third quarter to settle some of the remaining 3,800 Yaz cases.

"The use of oral contraceptives is associated with increased risks of several serious conditions, including venous and arterial thrombotic and thromboembolic events (such as myocardial infarction, thromboembolism, stroke), hepatic neoplasia, gallbladder disease, and hypertension," the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns. "The risk of serious morbidity or mortality is very small in healthy women without underlying risk factors. The risk of morbidity and mortality increases significantly in the presence of other underlying risk factors such as hypertension, hyperlipidemias, obesity and diabetes."

Source: Reuters, "France may curb use of riskier oral contraceptives," Jan. 3, 2012

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