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EDITIONS
Friday, 6 September, 2002, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Contraceptive patch gets EU go-ahead
Ortho Evra patch
The patch could increase compliance levels
A contraceptive patch has been approved for use across Europe.

Evra, a smooth beige patch is applied to the skin. A patch lasts for a week at a time and is used for three consecutive weeks, with the fourth week "patch free".

Its makers say it is 99% effective, like the Pill, but with the convenience and ease of a once-a-week dose.

Like the pill, it works by suppressing ovulation and tricking the body into believing it is pregnant.


This is good news for women

Anne Weyman, Family Planning Association
But the patch, which is set to be launched in Europe in the second half of 2003, delivers hormones through the skin and into the bloodstream instead of through the digestive system.

This means women would not be affected if they experienced vomiting or diarrhoea.

Family planning experts say the convenience factor should make the product easier to use, reducing unwanted pregnancies.

'Good news'

The patch can be worn under clothing on the buttocks, the abdomen, the upper torso or the upper outer arm.

Trials of the patches carried out by makers Jansenn-Cilag, part on 3,000 women in Europe, South Africa and North America showed Evra was well tolerated and had similar side effects to the Pill.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the product earlier in the year, but that decision had to be rubber-stamped by the European Commission before the patches could be licensed.

It is already available on prescription in the US and has recently been approved in Canada.

Anne Weyman, chief executive of the Family Planning Association, said: "This is good news for women.

"It works in the same way as the Pill, but you don't have to remember to take it every day.

"As such, it could help to reduce unwanted pregnancies."

See also:

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