Long-term contraceptive launched amid controversy

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The Independent Online
A LONG-TERM contraceptive implant which critics say is being targeted at teenage mothers and poor women from ethnic minorities in the United States, is available in Britain, writes Liz Hunt.

Norplant works for up to five years and is the most reliable method of contraception to date, according to family planning experts. The effects are usually reversible within 24 hours.

At a press conference in London today to launch Norplant, the manufacturers, Roussel Laboratories, will seek to distance themselves from the American controversy. Its introduction here co- incides with growing concern about the numbers of young single mothers dependent on the State.

Norplant has been available since 1990 in the US, where it has become a civil rights issue as fears grow that its use is being adopted as 'social policy' in some states.

The implant consists of six rods containing the hormone, levonorgestrel, which are inserted under the skin of the upper arm where they can be felt but cannot be seen. The procedure takes about 15 minutes and requires a local anaesthetic.