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Hormone pill to stop menstruation on way

A new hormone pill to suppress monthly periods sparks debate


20 April,2007:

The United States Food and Drug Administration is likely to give nod to a pill that could eliminate the need for women to have monthly menstruation.

The new pill, called Lybrel, is approved may come as a welcome milestone for many women. Particularly to those who suffer severe pain, heavy bleeding or emotional problems during their periods.

According to the research done by Wyeth –the maker of the drug-- nearly two-thirds of women it surveyed expressed an interest in giving up their periods. And studies have found no extra health risks associated with pills that stop menstruation, although some doctors caution that little research has been conducted on long-term effect.

Suppression of menstruation is not a completely new concept. Women who take any kind of oral contraceptive do not have real periods. Because the hormones in pills stop the monthly release of an egg and the buildup of the uterine lining, there is no need for the lining to shed — as occurs during true menstruation.
However, the new contraceptive pill could create controversy debate among others who view their periods as fundamental symbols of fertility and health.

Traditionally, views about menstruation have been different. While some cultures shunned women who are menstruating, others believed that menstruating women had special powers.

Many researchers have found rather than loathing their periods, women evidently carry on complex love-hate relationships with them. “My concern is that the menstrual cycle is an outward sign of something that’s going on hormonally in the body,” remarked C L. Hitchcock, a researcher at the University of British Columbia.

Also, they go on arguing that women are not sick and they don’t need to control their periods for 30 or 40 years.

The currently available medical research shows that the side effects of pills that suppress menstruation are the same as the side effects of regular birth control pills. The risks are generally low, but the most significant risk is cardiovascular problems in women who smoke, the reason that pills are packaged with a warning not to smoke.

Of late, several new drug have been launched in the market that tinker with menstrual cycle and to shorten span of bleeding.

Barr, for instance, launched Seasonale in 2003, a contraceptive regimen packed as 84 hormone pills and 7 placebo pills. Seasonale sales reached $120 million in the 12 months ended June 2006, before a generic equivalent by Watson entered the market. But even at that peak, Seasonale accounted for a “small segment” of the $1.7 billion annual United States market for oral contraceptives.

Barr is sponsoring a Web site, , that explains how the pill works. Expecting a larger market for the pills. The company also plans a direct advertising campaign within the next few months for a newer version, Seasonique, which also reduces periods to four a year.

And Wyeth at a presentation predicted that annual sales could reach $250 million for Lybrel, which is designed to be taken daily. However, the company has not said what it expects to charge for Lybrel, but birth control pills generally cost $18 to $50 a month, depending on the brand.





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