According to the Guttmacher Institute, over 60% if women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States are using some type of birth control, with 11.6 million of these women using the pill. Throughout the world, this form of contraception is a $5 billion market. Nonetheless, new documents indicate that newer forms of hormonal contraception are not as effective as older forms. In fact, some have twice the failure rate as their older counterparts.
The reasons behind the decrease in effectiveness is not fully understood, though researchers believe it is likely because the manufacturers of hormonal contraception are using lower doses of the hormones used to stop ovulation. Lowering the doses, however, was done in order to reduce the risk of developing blood clots while taking the pill.
"Today most birth control pills are very safe for the vast majority of
women."- Amy Allina, Program Director for the National Women’s Health
So, now the question is this: Which is more important – to improve the efficiency of birth control pills or to decrease the risks associated with hormonal contraception?
The FDA hopes to answer this question by bringing it to a panel comprised of obstetricians, gynecologists, neurologists, and statisticians. In the past, the FDA approved birth control pills that effectively prevented 99 out of 100 pregnancies. Current pills are shown to effectively prevent 98 out of 100 pregnancies. The panel will determine whether or not this small change in failure rates is acceptable
The panel will also determine whether or not the women used in the clinical trials are an appropriate representative mix of those using the pills. Currently, these trials typically exclude women that are overweight or that smoke, as well as those with a history of heart trouble.