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Ovran contraceptive pill discontinued

13 August, 2002

Ovran, a higher dose contraceptive pill that can be prescribed for women taking enzyme inducing anti-epileptic medication, is being taken off the market. Epilepsy Action's Helpline staff have asked us to alert women taking this Pill to arrange appointments with their doctor or family planning clinic to discuss their future contraceptive needs.

Some anti-epileptic medication induce enzymes which can reduce the effectiveness of the Pill, hence the need for a higher dose and possibly additional or alternative types of contraception.

A spokesperson from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, manufacturers of Ovran, suggested that possible alternatives include parenteral (not taken orally) progestogen-only contraceptives, the Mirena intra-uterine device, IUCDs and barrier methods.

Prodigy, the NHS computerised system that assists doctors with prescribing information, states:

"Women receiving [enzyme inducing anti-epileptics] should be advised to use alternative methods of contraception to oral contraceptives. There is no evidence of efficacy or safety of tailored high dose regimens or oral contraceptives and their use is controversial."

The Women with Epilepsy Guidelines Development Group guidelines state:

"Even if the woman is taking a higher dose combined oral contraceptive pill, full oral contraceptive efficacy cannot be guaranteed."

John Guillebaud, Professor of Family Planning and Reproductive Health at University College London, states:

"An alternative contraceptive option [to the COC] should first be seriously considered. DMPA [Depo-Provera] may be a good choice".