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FDA Drug Safety Podcast for Healthcare Professionals: Updated information about the risk of blood clots in women taking birth control pills containing drospirenone

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Narrator: Welcome to the FDA Drug Safety Podcast for Healthcare Professionals from the Division of Drug Information. Today’s topic: Updated information about the risk of blood clots in women taking birth control pills containing drospirenone.

CDR Kavita Dada, a U.S. Public Health Service Pharmacist in the Division, will provide you with additional information about this Communication.

Guest Speaker: On April 8th, 2012 the FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication informing the public it has completed its review of recent epidemiologic studies regarding the risk of blood clots in women taking drospirenone-containing birth control pills. Drospirenone is a synthetic version of the female hormone, progesterone, also referred to as a progestin.  Based on this review, FDA has concluded that drospirenone-containing birth control pills may be associated with a higher risk for blood clots than other progestin-containing pills. FDA is adding information about the studies to the labels of drospirenone-containing birth control pills.

The studies reviewed did not provide consistent estimates of the comparative risk of blood clots between birth control pills that contain drospirenone and those that do not.  The studies also did not account for important patient characteristics (known and unknown) that may influence prescribing and that likely affect the risk of blood clots.  For these reasons, it is unclear whether the increased risk seen for blood clots in some of the epidemiologic studies is actually due to drospirenone-containing birth control pills. 

The revised drug labels for Beyaz, Safyral, Yasmin, and Yaz will report that some epidemiologic studies reported as high as a three-fold increase in the risk of blood clots for drospirenone-containing products when compared to products containing levonorgestrel or some other progestins, whereas other epidemiological studies found no additional risk of blood clots with drospirenone-containing products. The labels also will include a summary of the previously released results of an FDA-funded study of the blood clot risk.

To put the risk of developing a blood clot from a birth control pill into perspective: the risk of blood clots is higher when using any birth control pills than not using them, but still remains lower than the risk of developing blood clots in pregnancy and in the postpartum period. 

At this time, healthcare professionals should consider the risks and benefits of drospirenone-containing birth control pills and a woman’s risk for developing a blood clot before prescribing these drugs. Additionally, adverse events involving drospirenone- containing products should be reported to the FDA MedWatch program at www.fda.gov/medwatch.

Narrator: Thank you for listening. The FDA is committed to keeping healthcare professionals informed of the latest safety information. A link to this as well as past communications, the complete Data Summary, the FDA-funded study report, and a listing of drospirenone-containing products can be found at www.fda.gov/DrugSafetyCommunications.  If you have drug questions, you can reach us at druginfo@fda.hhs.gov.

Follow us on Twitter @FDA_Drug_Info for up to the minute important drug information.  Know the moment it happens. 

 

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