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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Birth Control Pills Containing Drospirenone: Possible Increased Risk of Blood Clots

[UPDATED 10-27-2011] FDA notified healthcare professionals of release of the final report of the FDA-funded study that evaluated the risk of blood clots in users of several different hormonal contraceptives. The link is provided below. FDA’s review of the results of this study, specifically those results related to drospirenone-containing birth control pills, will be presented and discussed at the joint meeting of the Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee on December 8, 2011.
 

[UPDATED 09/26/2011] FDA has not yet reached a conclusion, but remains concerned, about the potential increased risk of blood clots with the use of drospirenone-containing birth control pills. FDA has completed its review of the two 2011 studies that evaluated the risk of blood clots for women who use drospirenone-containing birth control pills. FDA is continuing its review of a separate FDA-funded study that evaluated the risk of blood clots in users of several different hormonal birth control products (contraceptives). Preliminary results of the FDA-funded study suggest an approximately 1.5-fold increase in the risk of blood clots for women who use drospirenone-containing birth control pills compared to users of other hormonal contraceptives. 

Given the conflicting nature of the findings from six published studies evaluating this risk, as well as the preliminary data from the FDA-funded study FDA has scheduled a joint meeting of the Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee on December 8, 2011 to discuss the risks and benefits and specifically the risk of blood clots of drospirenone-containing birth control pills.

 

[Posted 05/31/2011]
 
AUDIENCE: OBGYN, Family Practice, Patient
 
ISSUE: FDA is aware of two newly published studies that evaluated the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in women who use birth control pills that contain drospirenone. The two recently published studies looked at whether there is a higher risk of blood clots in women taking birth control pills containing the progestin drospirenone when compared to similar women taking birth control pills containing a different progestin called levonorgestrel. These two new studies reported that there is a greater risk of VTE associated with birth control pills that contain drospirenone. This risk is reported to be up to 2 to 3 times greater than the risk of VTE associated with using levonorgestrel-containing pills. Other studies have not reported an increase in risk. The FDA is currently evaluating the conflicting results from these studies and will look at all currently available information to fully assess the risks and benefits of drospirenone-containing birth control pills. FDA will continue to communicate any new safety information to the public as it becomes available. Read the drug safety communication for more information on these studies.
 
BACKGROUND: Drospirenone is a type of female sex hormone called a progestin. Most birth control pills contain two types of hormones--estrogen and progestin. Birth control pills work by preventing the release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation) and changing the cervical mucus and the lining of the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Brand names of drospirenone-containing products include Yaz (generics Gianvi and Loryna), Yasmin (generics Ocella, Syeda, and Zarah), Beyaz, and Safyral. 
 
RECOMMENDATION: If your birth control pill contains drospirenone, do not stop taking it without first talking to your healthcare professional. Contact your healthcare professional immediately if you develop any symptoms of blood clots, including persistent leg pain, severe chest pain, or sudden shortness of breath. If you smoke and are over 35 years of age, you should not take combination oral contraceptives because they increase the risk that you could experience serious cardiovascular events, including blood clots.
 
Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program: 
  • Complete and submit the report Online: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm
  • Download form or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178
 
[10/27/2011 - Report: Combined Hormonal Contraceptives (CHCs) and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Endpoints - FDA]
[09/26/2011 – Drug Safety Communication- FDA]
[09/26/2011 – Questions and Answers –FDA]
[05/31/2011 – Drug Safety Communication - FDA]
[05/31/2011 – Questions and Answers - FDA]