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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 04:11 GMT
Contraceptive patch 'will overtake Pill'
Ortho Evra patch
The patch could increase compliance levels
A new contraceptive patch due to be licensed later this year could be more popular than the Pill, researchers say.

The consumer-friendly Ortho Evra is applied once a week for three weeks in the cycle and boasts a 99% effective rate.

The Pill has dominated the fertility control market since the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

But independent market analysts Datamonitor said the skin patches could eventually lead the way with global sales worth 125m within six years.

Transdermal patches, which offer the benefits of weekly, painless fertility control, are well placed to mount a significant challenge to oral contraceptives

Jane Richardson
Datamonitor

It said the patches could easily bridge the gap between pills and painful implants and injections.

The key benefit is that it avoids daily dosing and reduces the chance of women forgetting to take it.

With the other advantages of being easy to administer and pain-free, it could reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, researchers said.

The pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson has produced Ortho Evra and it will be marketed by Ortho-McNeil in the United States and Janssen Cilag in Europe.

Ban

It has already been approved in the US and is due for final European approval later this year.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave it initial approval which must now be rubber-stamped by the European Commission before the patches are licensed.

It means the patches could be available on prescription within months.
Ortho Evra patch
The patch can withstand bathing

The patch uses the same hormones as the Pill - oestrogen and progesterone - to trick the body into believeing it is pregnant.

But it contains lower doses of the hormones because they are absorbed through the skin instead of through the digestive system.

That gives it the added advantage of not being affected by vomiting or diarrhoea.

Women would wear one patch a week for three weeks, then take a seven-day break during menstruation.

Uptake is expected to be high in the US, but European usage will be hindered by a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs, Datamonitor said.
Other Patches
Nicotine
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Chocolate cravings

Jane Richardson, women's health analyst at Datamonitor, said: "These new patches are sure to prove popular with twenty-something women who would like to remove the anxiety of remembering to take a pill each day, but who are hesitant to commit to delivery methods such as injections, which are not only painful but have known side-effects and inhibit fertility for up to a year.

"On paper, transdermal patches, which offer the benefits of weekly, painless fertility control, are well placed to mount a significant challenge to oral contraceptives with global sales expected to reach $300m (125m) by 2008."

See also:

21 Nov 01 | Health
Go-ahead for contraceptive patch
08 Mar 01 | Health
Contraception fails UK youth
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