Call for conversation about contraceptive pill after AstraZeneca blood clot fears

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Wednesday 07 April 2021 19:41 BST
Under-30s should not be offered AstraZeneca vaccine in UK

Campaigners and politicians have called for a national conversation about the pill after ministers announced under-30s should be offered alternatives to the Oxford/ AstraZenecavaccine amid a possible link to extremely rare blood clots.

Experts have suggested that the oral contraceptives provide a "benchmark", of another medicine with occasional side effects.

But some have questioned whether the risks associated with the medication are tolerated by society because it is taken only by women.

Alice Perry, a member of Labour’s ruling national executive committee, tweeted: “If we’re comparing the side effects of the AZ vaccine and the contraceptive pill, can we have a conversation about what more could be done to make the pill safer and more pleasant? As well as blood clots, there’s weight gain, depression, mood swings etc. Women deserve better.”

Feminist campaigner and author Caroline Criado-Perez asked: “What about women in their 30s taking the contraceptive pill?”

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At the same time, Labour MP Jess Phillips revealed she had once suffered a blood clot ”caused by medication that women are prescribed every single day without a care in the world. Let’s make sure we are careful to properly understand the rare nature of what is being reported”.

Dr Peter Arlett, head of data analytics at the European Medicines Agency (EMA), suggested the pill was a "benchmark" with which to consider the risks associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

He told a press briefing in Brussels: "Perhaps, an example that you might like to reflect on would be the use of the combined oral contraceptive, the combined hormonal contraceptive, and blood clots that occur with contraceptives."

"These are given to women who are normally otherwise healthy, although obviously in a big population some of those women will have other risk factors and other conditions,” he said.

"And if we treat 10,000 women with a combined hormonal contraceptive for a year, we will see four excess blood clots in that year.

"So that just gives a benchmark of another medicine given to a healthy population which causes a side effect which occurs rarely but that we need to take into consideration."

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