Contraceptive pills: a study by the ANSM on the number of venous thromboembolic accidents

Publié le : 29 March 2013

 On Wednesday 26 March the National Agency for Medication Safety (ANSM) released a study covering the years 2000-2011 and revealing "the number of venous thromboembolic accidents […] attributable to the different generations of contraceptive pills, as well as the mortality rate linked to these events in women aged 15 to 49 exposed to COC [combined oral contraceptives] in France" over these years. According to this study, "based notably on mortality data from hospitals," "the number of venous thromboembolic accidents attributable to contraceptive pills is estimated at 2,529 per year," and at 20 per year the number of deaths by pulmonary embolism, for all generations of pills, from the first to the fourth generation.

Prof. Anne Gompel, head of the Endocrine Gynaecology department of the Cochin-Port-Royal hospital in Paris, says that "these figures do not undermine the benefit-risk balance of the pill, which remains favourable". But, she adds, "they confirm the fact that it is not a harmless medication and the necessity to prescribe it after taking into account for each woman its different risk factors."          
For those taking this medication, "the principal risk […] is venous thrombosis, also called phlebitis. In this case, a clot is formed in a vein, usually in the leg. The situation can become serious if the clot is drawn into the blood circulation and migrates to the pulmonary vessels. Then it is an embolism that may cause death."           
Since the recent controversy on the excessive prescription of latest-generation pills, "the sale of contraceptives dispensed in pharmacies, excluding condoms, declined by 1.4% in February 2013 compared to February 2012," according to an "analysis of the data on their use as of 1 March 2013 released by the National Council of the Order of Pharmacists (CNOP) and Celtipharm.

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