Health Canada Reviewing Safety of Birth Control Pills

Health Canada is currently reviewing the safety of Bayer Pharmaceutical’s birth control pills, Yaz and Yasmin, in an effort to determine if women who use these drugs are at an increased risk of developing life-threatening blood clots over women using different brands of birth control.

The review was prompted by two new studies recently published in the British Medical Journal, which concluded that women ages 15-44 taking birth control pills containing the synthetic progestin, drospirenone, are more likely to develop blood clots deep in the veins of the leg (venous thromboembolism), than women using birth control pills containing the common progestin levonorgestrel. The studies reported that the risk of developing blood clots for women taking the drospirenone-containing pills may be two to three times greater than those who take other pills.

Health Canada released a statement asserting that the agency is “currently evaluating the recently published studies and is looking at all available information to fully assess the risk of blood clots.” The agency also added that it will “take appropriate action as necessary once the review is complete.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it is also reviewing results from the British Medical Journal’s newly published studies but made certain to indicate that a more detailed evaluation of the studies’ conflicting results is required before the level of risk can be fully assessed.

Women currently taking birth control pills are urged to consult their doctors regarding any questions or concerns they may have about their prescribed oral contraceptive. Additionally, patients taking birth control pills should remain acutely aware of any signs or symptoms of a blood clot, including persistent swelling in the leg, pain or tenderness in the lower leg, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain. Patients experiencing these symptoms are instructed to seek immediate medical attention.

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