Newer oral contraceptive as safe for gall bladder as older birth-control pills: research

Drospirenone, the top-selling oral contraceptive marketed as Yaz or Yasmin in the U.S. and Canada, doesn't carry any more risk of gall bladder disease than the older generation of birth control pills, despite claims by some consumers and lawyers in both countries, according to a new study by University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute researcher Mahyar Etminan.

In the study, published today in the CMAJ (), Etminan and colleagues from McGill University and the University of Florida analyzed a database of for 2.7 million U.S. women using over 18 months. He sought to determine whether there was a higher rate of gall bladder surgery or for gall bladder disease among women using the relatively new drospirenone, compared to levonorgestrel, the oldest and historically most-prescribed oral contraceptive.

All oral contraceptive drugs carry a small increased risk of gall bladder disease; recent lawsuits allege dropsirenone's risk is greater than the others. Other allegations leveled against the drug by patients and lawyers include harmful effects on the heart and an increased risk of blood clots. This was the first published study to compare the gall bladder risks of the various birth control pills.

While the analysis found a small, statistically significant increased risk of gall bladder disease among users of dropsirenone – as well as two other traditional oral contraceptives – it is not great enough to be deemed clinically relevant or a cause for concern compared to levonorgestrel, says Etminan, a drug safety expert.

"There have been concerns about various risks of dropsirenone raised by consumers and their lawyers that have been covered by the news media, and which may in turn affect the decisions of physicians and their patients," says Etminan, a pharmacoepidemiologist at the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology & Evaluation at Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and an assistant professor in the Dept. of Medicine at UBC.

"This study should give women some reassurance that the drug is as safe as other contraceptives at least with regard to gall bladder disease, and women should weigh this against the increased risk of pregnancy that occurs when switching to another contraceptive drug," says Etminan.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New warning OK'd for birth control patch

Jan 21, 2008

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a warning for the Ortho Evra Contraceptive Transdermal Patch label concerning the risk of blood clots.

Recommended for you

Study recalculates costs of combination vaccines

14 hours ago

One of the most popular vaccine brands for children may not be the most cost-effective choice. And doctors may be overlooking some cost factors when choosing vaccines, driving the market toward what is actually a more expensive ...

Drug watchdog urges vigilance in cancer drug theft

18 hours ago

Europe's medicine watchdog urged doctors Thursday to be vigilant in administering the cancer drug Herceptin, vials of which had been stolen in Italy and tampered with before being sold back into the supply chain.

Pyridoxine-doxylamine drug safety data lacking

Apr 16, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—The most commonly prescribed drug for pregnant women suffering from morning sickness in their first trimester does not prevent birth defects even though drug safety data says it does, according to research ...

User comments