PHARMACY

Study warns of heart risks with birth control pills

BY Allison Cerra

ORLANDO, Fla. A European study released on Tuesday addressed concerns about the safety of women’s long-term use of the birth control pill.

Women who had used oral contraceptives were more likely to experience a heart attack or stroke in their lifetime, compared to those who do not use oral contraceptives, the researchers said at an American Heart Association meeting.

“The main concern is if you have higher plaque levels that you might develop a clot on one of these plaques and have a stroke or a myocardial infarction [heart attack] or sudden cardiac death,” said Dr. Ernst Rietzschel of Ghent University in Belgium, who led the research. “That’s the main risk with having plaque, with having atherosclerosis.”

Rietzschel’s team studied 1,301 women ages 35 to 55. Of them, 81 percent had used the pill, for an average of 13 years. The researchers saw a rise of 20 to 30 percent in arterial plaque in two big arteries—the carotid in the neck and the femoral in the leg—for each decade of use.

The researchers said that they measured plaque levels using a technique called vascular echography.

In atherosclerosis, there is a hardening and narrowing of the arteries caused by the slow buildup of plaque, made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other material, on the inside of artery walls.

Although several oral contraceptives in the market state that the use of them could pose risk for blood clots, in addition to strokes and heart attacks, Rietzschel says that using the continuous use of the pill is not something they should be alarmed about, according to Reuters.

“Bottom line—don’t discontinue your pill suddenly. Don’t panic. Don’t call your gynecologist tomorrow morning,” Rietzschel said.

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Mass. court levies combined $13.6 million against AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb

BY Drew Buono

BOSTON A federal court in Massachusetts entered $12.9 million in damages against AstraZeneca and $695,594 against Bristol-Myers Squibb for the state’s class action members in a suit related to marketing the spread of certain drugs, according to law firms.

The judge, Patti B. Saris, found that AstraZeneca marketed the spread on its Zoladex drug, which is used to treat prostate cancer, selling it based on its profitability to doctors’ offices. She also found that less than 10 percent of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s sales were made within 5 percent of its list price, according to DowJones.

AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb intend to appeal the ruling, which covers Massachusetts’s class-action participants.

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Eli Lilly’s depression care program receives certification

BY Drew Buono

INDIANAPOLIS Eli Lilly has received Program Design Certification from the National Committee for Quality Assurance for its Tools that Empower Depression Care Management Program.

Tools that Empower Depression Care Management Program is designed for managed care organizations to assist in further driving the standard of patient care around major depressive disorder. It helps identify members with major depressive disorder and offers educational resources to support treatment.

“Tools that Empower is part of Lilly’s commitment to our customers to help reduce patient risk and create an environment of continuous improvement for patient care,” said Jack Bailey, vice president, Lilly’s Business to Business division. “The NCQA certification validates the helpful tools provided by the program.”

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