Labour's Alarmist Pill Claims Concerning

  • Wyatt Creech
International Trade

"Following recent media publicity about the third generation contraceptive pill I have sought further advice from the Ministry of Health about what it is being done to ensure doctors are well informed," Health Minister Wyatt Creech said today.

"It is clear from this advice that comments from Labour's Health spokesperson that the Government ignored advice which could have saved the lives of seven women are incorrect and alarmist.

"It is important in this area that decisions about clinical prescribing are left to the technical experts not politicians. These decisions involve judgements and the Ministry of Health and health experts have worked together to reach a consensus about the best way forward."

"Ministers will always expect officials to err on the side of caution on warnings," Mr Creech said.

The Ministry has been advising doctors of the best approach to take when prescribing this pill since concerns were first raised in October 1995. It has upped its efforts lately following several deaths and concerns women were not getting the advice they needed.

In October 1995 the Ministry called a meeting of interested health groups and agencies and the following month, advice from that group was distributed to doctors accompanied by patient information leaflets which explained the risks.

In March 1996 the Medicines Adverse Reaction Committee met to discuss several published studies (published in late January) which demonstrated increased risk to those taking third generation combined oral contraceptive pills compared to other combined contraceptive pills.

As an outcome of their deliberations the Committee recommended the Ministry of Health publish guidelines for prescribers. In consultation with the committee, and other organisations, a consensus position was reached and leaflets and articles for prescribers and consumers were written and published in July 1996.