Wyeth-Ayerst, the maker of Norplant said last week that it
cannot guarantee certain batches of the birth-control implants are
effective. Because of this, the company has announced it will reimburse women who have questionable implants for the cost of backup birth control.
Women who have received Norplant implants from batches that were
shipped to doctors on or after 10 October 1999 should use a nonhormone form of birth control as a backup.
Wyeth-Ayerst first wrote doctors last month telling them to stop
inserting those implants, because laboratory testing for shelf-life
stability suggested some might release less contraceptive hormone
than they should, raising questions about effectiveness. Vidyya has been watching this story for you. For more information read 17 August 2000, 19 September 2000 issues.
In a second letter to thousands of doctors Wednesday, the
company insisted additional tests still must be done to prove if
those lower hormone levels really put women at risk of pregnancy. However the letter urged physicians to search their records and
immediately notify patients who should use a backup.
In addition, the FDA has also advised women to call their doctors if they had Norplant inserted since Oct. 20 and specifically ask about backup birth
control. Women should not wait to be notified but check for themselves.
Women who have Norplant should not use hormonal contraceptives,
Back up methods to considure include: condoms, spermicide, a diaphragm or
Wyeth-Ayerst said it will pay up to $100 to women who request
financial assistance for the backup contraception. In addition,
Wyeth-Ayerst will reimburse women $700 if they wish to have the
questionable Norplant removed--a step the company is not recommending. There have been no reports of increased pregnancy rates among Norplant users.
Women and doctors may call the company at 1-800-364-9809 for
information or financial assistance.
About 1 million American women and 5 million women worldwide
have used Norplant, which consists of six hormone-filled capsules
that are implanted in a woman's upper arm and slowly release enough
hormone to provide contraception for five years.