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June 4, 2011

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Popular birth control pill in safety review

A SAFETY review of a contraceptive pill popular with women in China is under way in the United States after reports that it can cause more blood clots than other products.

Shanghai drug officials said they were following the progress of the review announced by the US Food and Drug Administration after two studies found a two to three times greater risk of blood clots among women taking pills containing drospirenone, such as Bayer's Yaz, Yasmin, Beyaz, and Safyral.

Of the four, Yasmin is the only one sold on China's mainland. It has been available since 2009 and is produced at the German company's plant in Guangzhou in south China's Guangdong Province.

The US FDA is currently evaluating conflicting results from the studies and will look at all available information to fully assess the risks and benefits of such pills. It will continue to communicate any new safety information to the public as it becomes available, it said in a statement.

European regulators have asked Bayer to revise the products' prescribing information to include the new safety findings.

Du Wenmin, vice director of the Shanghai Center for Drug Adverse Reaction Clinical Monitoring, said the center hadn't received any reports of women suffering blood clots after taking Yasmin.

He said all birth control pills contained female hormones, which can cause blood clots especially for those with cardiovascular diseases.

"The problem is whether the pill has a bigger risk of causing blood clots than other birth control pills, and we will closely follow the event's development," Du said. "For the sake of safety, women with cardiovascular diseases should take other birth control measures instead of pills."

At a Shanghai Leiyunshang Pharmacy outlet on Nanjing Road W. yesterday, a pack of Yasmin pills is on sale for 138 yuan (US$21). Other brands sell from 30 yuan to 70 yuan.

"The pills are quite popular among women aged 20 to 40, especially the white-collar group," said shop assistant Zhu Yilei. "Young women are likely to choose expensive pills like Yasmin as they believe the more expensive, the fewer side effects the pills will bring on their health."

"Though it appeared in our pharmacy since last December, its sales have been in line with other brands," said Zhu, whose store sells about 50 packs of Yasmin every month.

Zhu added: "We haven't received any reports regarding Yasmin's adverse reaction on blood clots so far and the headquarters hasn't ordered us to be especially aware of this pill."

In the statement on its website, Bayer said the FDA's evaluation was normal procedure to ensure the drug's safety. The chances of having blood clots was rare according to its previous research.


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