FDA Panel That Declared Yaz-like Birth Control Safe May Care More About Big Pharma Than Young Women

Four members of a government panel that declared popular birth control pills like Yaz to be safe were found to have connections to drug companies. Who knew non-procreative sex in the modern era would be so ever so slightly risky?

Birth control in the modern era is both a wonderful and terrifying product. The pill in particular is odorless and tasteless, but instead of killing us like carbon monoxide would, it keeps us womenfolk baby-free (unless you’re on antibiotics, in which case that shit isn’t foolproof). While I believe Margaret Sanger would be pleased that we’re all so pill-happy these days, taking birth control to prevent pregnancy, acne, menstruation, and mysteriously being sent away to Europe for a year, she might not be so happy with the possibility that old white dudes at big pharmaceutical companies are peddling new hormonal contraceptives that are less safe than older versions of the pill.

Of course, that depends on one’s definition of safe. The thing is, the current arbiter of safety is the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA recently convened a panel to decide whether some new versions of the pill – ones that contain drospirenone, like Yaz – were safe in light of the fact that they carried slightly higher risks of blood clotting than older versions of the pill without the compound. By a four-vote margin, the panel decided that the risk of pregnancy outranked the risk of clots. Yet precisely four of the 26 panel members had links to major drug companies, The Project on Government Oversight found. The watchdog group has now asked the FDA to hold a new vote.

On the one hand, the increased risk with either version of the pill is slight – 10 in 10,000 for pills with drospirenone, versus 6 in 10,000 for pills without it. Pregnancy is probably riskier, and you also have to take care of a baby at the end of it. But I say they should go ahead and have a do-over. The last thing I want is to get a pesky blood clot during my freewheeling non-procreative sexual escapades. It’s kind of a mood killer/death causer.

[Photo from Wikimedia Commons]

Samantha Kimmey lives in New York, NY. Follow her on Twitter at @Samantha_Kimmey. ...read more

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