PARIS Jan 11 French health authorities will ask
the European Union to restrict the use of newer types of
contraceptive pills over concerns they might carry health risks.
France's health minister Marisol Touraine said on Friday the
newer pills, which have caught on because they reduce side
effects from earlier versions such as weight gain and acne,
should only be prescribed by specialist doctors to women who
cannot use other types of contraception.
Dominique Maraninchi, head of France's health regulator,
said at the same news conference: "We will ask Europe not to
suspend the pills but to modify prescription guidelines."
While all oral contraceptives are associated with a risk of
blood clots, a number of studies suggest the most recent third
and fourth-generation pills carry a higher risk than their
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) says the risk of an
embolism, or blood clot, is twice as high for women using third
and fourth-generation pills than for those using earlier
versions, although it remains low.
However, the regulator said on Friday it was already well
known that the newer pills carried a "very rare risk of blood
clots", and that there was no reason for women to stop using the
contraceptives since there was no new evidence pointing to
The French government said last week it would stop
reimbursing prescription costs of the third and
fourth-generation pills and would restrict their use after a
woman sued German drugmaker Bayer over alleged side
Marion Larat, 25, sued over a stroke, caused by a blood
clot, she suffered following use of a third-generation
About 2.5 million women in France take third and
fourth-generation pills, roughly half the number of those taking
oral contraceptives. French health authorities say this use of
the newer pills is excessive.
A spokeswoman for the EMA said the agency had been in
informal contact with French health authorities but had not yet
received an official request to consider a European-wide curb.
"We will see what the request will be in detail," she said.
In addition to Bayer, drugmakers Pfizer, Merck
, Mylan and Teva market third and
fourth-generation birth control pills in France.
In October, Bayer said it had set aside 200 million euros
($264 million) in the third quarter for litigation in the United
States in connection with its Yasmin/Yaz birth control pills,
having already agreed to pay $750 million to settle 3,490 legal
claims that Yasmin caused blood clots.
Clots are alleged in a further 3,800 pending cases.
Switzerland's biggest health insurer CSS said earlier this
week it was supporting a young woman in her claim against Bayer
after she suffered a clot that left her severely disabled.