Contraceptives: More choices and convenience coming

October 23, 2006

From pills to patches, from implants to Plan B going OTC, women have more contraceptives to choose from today than ever before.

From pills to patches, from implants to Plan B going OTC, women have more contraceptives to choose from today than ever before.

Yaz

Extending the duration of the active regimen minimizes the follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol fluctuations that occur during the pill-free or placebo interval, Rapkin explained. In addition, the fact that it contains a lower concentration of estradiol compared with its predecessor, Yasmin (drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol 3 mg/0.03 mg, Berlex), may augment some of its benefits, she said.

Yaz became available to pharmacies in April. Schering and Berlex, its U.S. affiliate, continue to pursue FDA approval of Yaz for the treatment of the emotional and physical symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Seasonique

Seasonique (Barr Laboratories) is a 91-day regimen that begins with 84 blue-green tablets for the first 12 weeks, each tablet containing 0.15 mg of levonorgestrel and 0.03 mg of ethinyl estradiol. The 13th week of the regimen consists of yellow 0.01-mg (10-mcg) ethinyl estradiol tablets. Barr's Seasonale, Seasonique's predecessor, provides a 13th week of placebo tablets, noted Andrea Coffee, Pharm.D., BCPS, a clinical pharmacy specialist at the Scott & White Memorial Hospital and Clinic in Temple, Texas. She explained, however, that both products have a scheduled bleeding episode four times a year-during the 13th week of tablets. Seasonique also became available to pharmacies in April 2006.

Jasper pointed out that the user-friendly packaging of both Seasonique and Seasonale minimizes the risk that women will take their pills late or skip a dose altogether. Coffee cautioned, however, that women who are prone to missing tablets or taking their tablets late may be less satisfied with Seasonique, because they may experience more breakthrough spotting and bleeding than with traditional OCs. She went on to say that some women experience symptoms of estrogen withdrawal, such as headache and symptoms of PMS-even on traditional OCs. Seasonique may benefit these women, because it has no estrogen-free days.