Clinic offers health-alert Pill

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The Independent Online
A leading family planning centre says it is continuing to offer women aged over 30 the brands of oral contraceptive Pill that were the subject of a Government alert last week.

Professor John Guillebaud, medical director of the Margaret Pyke Family Planning Centre in London, says the pills will be available to "fully informed" women, with risk factors for arterial blood disease which increases their chance of heart attack and stroke.

Writing in the the British Medical Journal, he says that new studies which triggered the alert confirm the "amazing safety of all modern formulations of the combined pill with regard to ... venous thrombo-embolism [clots in the veins]." The danger, even with the "risky" pills is half that of a clot in pregnancy. Other data shows the pills protect against heart attack and stroke

In the same issue, Professor Walter Spitzer, lead investigator of one of the studies, accused the Government of "misusing and misinterpreting" unpublished data. The Committee on Safety of Medicines last week advised 1.5 million women taking seven brands of the combined Pill, containing the synthetic progestogen hormones, desogestrel or gestodene, to change brands. Three independent studies have shown that they have twice the risk of blood clots as brands containing different progestogens.

Professor Guillebaud agrees with the CSM, however, that overweight women, those with varicose veins, a family history of blood clots, and those who are immobile should not be given Pills containing desogestrel or gestodene. Women under 30 will also be offered other brands.

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