Magazine article Drug Topics

New Oral Contraceptive Claims to Reduce Some Common Side Effects

Magazine article Drug Topics

New Oral Contraceptive Claims to Reduce Some Common Side Effects

Article excerpt

By mid-June, there will be yet another oral contraceptive on your pharmacy shelf. Yasmin, marketed by Berlex Laboratories, Montville, N.J, differs from the crowd, though. Along with 0.03 mg ethinyl estradiol, it contains 3 mg drospirenone, a novel progestin that is an analog of spironolactone.

This low-dose contraceptive has demonstrated safety and effectiveness in clinical trials and is approved by the Food & Drug Administration for prevention of pregnancy. "This novel progestin may offer advantages," said Marie Foegh, M.D., medical director, clinical research and development, female health care, Berlex. Many currently marketed oral contraceptives, she said, are associated with headache, nausea, and emotional lability, side effects believed to be associated with the progestin component and water and electrolyte retention.

"Like spironolactone, drospirenone causes sodium and water excretion and potassium reabsorption," noted Candace Brown,. Pharm.D., MSN, professor in pharmacy practice, obgyn and psychiatry, University of Tennessee. Brown, who has been involved in ethinyl estradiol/drospire-- none clinical trials, found that women taking the combination reported less breast tenderness and abdominal bloating compared with their baseline symptoms. And while they did not report a decrease in weight, neither did they report an increase.

Drospirenone may also have a beneficial effect on some mood symptoms, noted Brown. "Drospirenone is different [from other progestins] because it decreases testosterone by two methods" instead of one. It indirectly decreases the synthesis of testosterone from the adrenal glands and the ovaries, and it decreases the synthesis of testosterone from areas of the skin. "Some studies have shown that increased testosterone is related to irritability," Brown said, "and we did find this to be true."

Studies have been limited to women who do not have severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but "what we're now looking at is women who have severe PMS," Brown commented.

While drospirenone offers potential benefits to some women, its properties limit its use in others. As an analog of spironolactone, it can increase potassium levels. Thus it is contraindicated in women with renal insufficiency, hepatic dysfunction, or adrenal insufficiency And women who are taking medications that increase potassium levels-specifically, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin-II receptor antagonists, potassium-sparing diuretics, heparin, aldosterone antagonists, and non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs-should have their potassium levels checked during the first treatment cycle. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.