Go-ahead given for patch to replace the Pill

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Indy Lifestyle Online

A contraceptive skin patch to rival the Pill, which could transform birth control for thousands of women, has been approved by the European Medicines Agency.

The patch, which is called Evra and manufactured by Janssen-Cilag, is one of the biggest leaps forward for hormonal contraception since the Pill was launched more than 40 years ago. It contains the same hormones as the Pill – oestrogen and progestogen – but in lower quantities, because they do not have to go through the digestive system but are absorbed directly into the bloodstream.

Unlike the Pill, it is not affected by vomiting or diarrhoea, making pregnancy less likely, and it causes fewer side-effects. Each patch lasts for a week, so it can be stuck on the body and forgotten. It is said to be sticky enough to be worn while swimming or bathing.

The patch – which is licensed in the United States, although it has yet to be marketed there – was approved by the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products after a 10-month review. The European Commission is expected to license it by the summer.

Anne Weyman, the chief executive of the Family Planning Association, said: "This is great news for women. [It] works in the same way as the Pill, but you don't have to remember to take it every day. As such, it could help to reduce unplanned pregnancies."

The patch will also appeal to women who dislike swallowing tablets.

Trials in more than 3,300 women found 15 became pregnant, a success rate of over 99 per cent, similar to the Pill.