Benefits of emergency contraceptives outweigh risks, confirms EMA

A European review has concluded that emergency contraceptives remain suitable for all women, regardless of bodyweight.

Emergency contraceptives should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sexual intercourse or contraceptive failure. | SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Emergency contraceptives should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sexual intercourse or contraceptive failure. | SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

The EMA review examined the relationship between the effectiveness of Levonelle (levonorgestrel) and EllaOne (ulipristal acetate) and increasing body weight. Some studies suggested a possible reduction in efficacy with increasing body weight, whilst other studies showed no such trend. Based on the totality of data available, the agency concluded that the effects of these medicines remain positive and it cannot be concluded that body weight has an impact on their effectiveness.

"Women should be reassured that regardless of their body weight, emergency contraceptives can still be used to prevent unintended pregnancy," said Dr Sarah Branch, Deputy Director of Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicines at the MHRA. "Women should continue to take these products as early as possible after contraception failure or unprotected sexual intercourse." 

The product information for Levonelle and EllaOne will be updated in due course to reflect the results of the studies.

Further information: MHRA Drug Safety Update July 2014

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