BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 7 June, 2002, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
Mothers sue over 'failed contraceptive'
Persona
Persona has been highly controversial
A group of 63 women who became pregnant despite using a controversial hi-tech contraceptive aid are suing the makers for millons of pounds.

The women all used the Persona device following its launch in the UK in 1996.


I do not want this to happen to any other woman and that is the only reason I am taking this action

Eloise King
However, each subsequently became pregnant, and they are now claiming up to 150,000 each in damages from the device's maker, Beford-based Unipath.

Persona is a computerised kit which analyses a woman's hormones to calculate when during her menstrual cycle she is able to have unprotected sex with a minimal risk of getting pregnant.

When the device flashes up a red light, unprotected sex is not safe, when it flashes up a green light, it is indicating that the risk of becoming pregnant is minimal.

Not perfect

However, there is no time during the menstrual cycle when conception is impossible, particularly as sperm can remain viable in the female sexual tract for several days.

As a result, many women who used the kit to try to predict when they should avoid sex have become pregnant.

Among them is Eloise King, 42, who became pregnant with her fourth child 12 years after she had decided her family was complete.

Mrs King said she had contacted Unipath to voice concerns about the accuracy of the machine before she became pregnant, but was told not to worry.

She said: "I do not want this to happen to any other woman and that is the only reason I am taking this action.

"It is not for the money. We already had three children and we did not plan to have any more.

"Right from the beginning I had doubts about the accuracy of the Persona machine.

"The readings did not seem right to me. I queried them with the company numerous times, but I was assured over and over again that it was reliable and I was worrying unnecessarily.

"When I found out that I was pregnant just a few months later, it was a shock."

Critical review

Persona was approved by the Vatican on its launch.

However, a 1998 review by the Medical Devices Agency (MDA) found one in 17 women using the device would become pregnant every year.

This compares with one in 100 women on the pill, and one in 50 couples using condoms.

In a statement, the MDA said: "While a useful addition to the range of contraceptive choice, Persona is basically a test-based form of the rhythm method of contraception.

"However, due to its technological basis, expectations of Persona may be higher than for other forms of contraception."

The government subsequent issued a warning that women should only use the device if they did not mind getting pregnant.

A spokeswoman for Unipath said the device carried a warning that it was not suitable for women who have abnormal cycle lengths, or who have been using hormonal contraceptions in the past three months.

She said: "While we are sympathetic to any woman experiencing problems with our equipment, we shall definitely be defending this action."

See also:

03 Jul 98 | Health
08 May 01 | Health
25 Nov 99 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes