Recent Advances in Oral and Transdermal Contraception

Peggy Piascik, PhD


US Pharmacist. 2008;33(9):19-23. 

In This Article

Desogestrel-containing Oral Contraceptives

Desogestrel is a third-generation progestin that is found in a number of COCs, including Cyclessa, Ortho-Cept, Mircette, and Desogen. The third-generation products were developed during the 1980s to decrease the androgenic effects, including hirsutism and acne, commonly seen with earlier generations of oral contraceptives. Two meta-analyses published in 2001 concluded that desogestrel- containing oral contraceptives increase the risk of thromboembolism by a factor of 1.7 over products that contain levonorgestrel.[14,15]

The FDA requires manufacturers of desogestrel-containing products to include a statement in the Warnings section of COC labeling that these products are associated with a two-fold increase in the risk of venous thromboembolism. According to the FDA, patients at increased risk for thromboembolism should consider switching to a second-generation product.[16] The Public Citizen's Health Research Group (PCHRG) filed a petition with the FDA in February 2007 to remove desogestrel because of the increased risk of developing blood clots.[17] The petition claims that the third-generation products confer no clear advantage over older oral contraceptives that is sufficient to warrant the risks.[17]


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