Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tragedy of death by contraception

Reports that a 17-year-old German girl died at Basel University Hospital from of a pulmonary embolism caused by a contraceptive pill were confirmed on 22 December 2009 by Swissmedic, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products. A spokesperson for the agency said that, 'a 17-year-old died of a pulmonary embolism around 1 month after taking a hormonal contraceptive. Joachim Gross head of Press Relations for Swissmedic confirmed that the pill in question was of the anti-androgen type, according to, an article which appeared in the Sonntagsblick, (a Swiss publication) and also according to a report by Sandra Weber of Les Quotidiennes.

The latest tragic death is the third such incident in Switzerland attributed to this type of pill in the past year (2009). In September another woman died in very similar circumstances, while in May, a young woman became severely handicapped after 3 months in a coma following a pulmonary embolism, again linked to the pill.

These tragedies prompted the Swiss Federation of Patient Services (Patientenstellen der Schweiz) to demand a ban on pills containing anti-androgens also known as “drospirenone.” Despite the tragedies however Swissmedic argued that this measure was not necessary, citing research they conducted last autumn, that drospirenone does not increase health risks, and that there is no reason, therefore, to withdraw these products from the market. They did confirm, however, that taking a hormonal contraceptive is never harmless and that all pills increase the risk of venous thrombo-embolism, especially during the first year.