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Six deaths linked to oral contraceptive pill in Ireland

Last year, there were 273 seizures of Yasmin and similar contraceptive pills in Ireland.

Image: Tim Ireland/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE IRISH MEDICINES Board has received notifications of six deaths related to the use of the oral contraceptive pill in Ireland since 1992.

Two of those deaths involved the use of Yasmin and Yaz, brands associated with a number of recent deaths in Canada. The women were reported to have died due to clotting-related complications.

“It is well established for many years that combined contraceptives carry a very small risk of clots, known as venous thrombembolism,” junior minister Alex White explained in an answer to a parliamentary question.

The risks of these adverse reactions is detailed in all product information and safety issues have been highlighted by the IMB in its newsletters.

The controversy in Canada comes as an EU-wide review draws to a close. According to Minister White, the examination is due to conclude and report in the coming months.

It is understood that in one of the Yasmin/Yaz-related deaths, the patient purchased the contraceptive online. She also had other risk factors that could have contraindicated its use.

Online sales

Last year, 273 seizures Yasmin, Yasminelle and Yarina were recorded by customs. Under current law, it is illegal for prescription medicines to be supplied by mail order.

The IMB attempts to follow up with the intended recipient of the seized goods to explain the health risk associated with seeking to source and use such products.

The practice of ordering drugs through Internet sites has become more common in recent years. Yasmin costs between €12 and €14 per month in Irish pharmacies.

Canada

The question was posed by Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor last week following reports in Canada that at least 24 women taking Yaz and Yasmin birth control pills died from possible adverse reactions since 2007.

According to the CBC News, Bayer – the makers of the pill – have paid more than $1 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits in the US. However, it has defended its products.

A class-action has also been certified in Canada.

Ireland

In an inquest last year, a Cork coroner heard how a 33-year-old woman collapsed and died after developing a blood clot that reached her lungs. She was predisposed to clots and had been taking the contraceptive pill for nine years.

A post-mortem exam concluded that she died from a pulmonary venous thromboembolism, in association with a third-generation contraceptive pill.

The pathologist noted that it was a “rare event”.

Read: Generic drugs are more expensive in Ireland than the EU

More: Safety warning over giving codeine tablets to under-18s

Related: Two dead over suspected mix-up of sleeping and blood pressure pills

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