The pharmaceutical company Bayer Schering has apparently been getting increasingly concerned about the impact of building lawsuits on sales of Yasmin. So much so that they are seeking approval to start selling a new brand of birth control pill called Qlaira (where do they come up with these hippy-sounding names?).
Already circulating is a press release calling Qlaira the first 'natural' oral contraceptive. They claim that the oestrogen component of this pill is bio-identical to the oestrogen found in women's bodies, that is it has a similar molecular structure. The oestrogen component is called estradiol valerate. When the body takes this in and metabolises it, separating the estradiol from the valerate then the estradiol part will act much like the body's oestrogen. But, really, the only truly unmanipulated, natural oestrogen is that found naturally in the body. Introducing the estradiol valerate into a woman's body will produce the same results as any other pill - replacing the natural hormone cycle with a pill produced cycle - and thus all the same side effects.
The synthetic progestogen part of Qlaira is dienogest, which is entirely man-made. Dienogest is anti-androgenic and has anti-mineralocorticoid effects the same as the progestogen in Yasmin, and will therefore have that negative impact discussed previously. A strange choice for Bayer Schering, considering it is the progestogen in Yasmin, drospirenone, that is at the centre of the lawsuits concerning women who have suffered from blood clots, strokes and heart attacks.
The Qlaira pills are marked as to the day of the month you should take them, with 28 in total. They range in colour to show the different doses of hormones contained - with four types of tablets and a placebo. The two dark yellow tablets contain 3mg estradiol, the five medium red tablets contain 2mg estradiol and 2mg dienogest, the 17 light yellow tablets contain 2mg estradiol and 3mg dienogest, and the two dark red tablets contain 1mg estradiol.
Bayer Schering's press release suggests that the synthetic oestrogen used in all other pills is inferior to this new, unique, 'natural' estradiol. It's a bit like when a laundry soap or shampoo is advertised as 'new and improved' - as though the one you've been spending your money on, putting your faith in for years is suddenly revealed as a ruse, a sham. Hopefully, the company's promotional wording might make people question what's wrong with the old synthetic oestrogen we've been taking for decades.
Be aware that in the next six months you will likely start seeing promotional pieces in women's magazines about this 'natural' birth control pill and hear doctors suggesting we give it a try, seeing as the other kinds haven't quite worked out. The Qlaira progestogen also aids weight loss and gives you glowing skin, just like Yasmin's drospirenone. A 'natural' pill that makes you skinny and beautiful, how can we refuse?
That Bayer Schering have noted a sea change of sorts and felt compelled to develop and release a 'natural' pill at this time is intriguing. Such a move suggests they are afraid of the tide turning against the pill. Before the billions could even start dwindling they were ready with a better sell.
Here's a link to the press release, you can see it says 75% of women prefer a 'natural' pill. Well, if you put it that way...
"I am constantly concerned about the number of women who do not use effective contraception because of fears of risks, or side-effects they have experienced. Each completely new addition to the range of contraception must be welcomed as it gives extra choice to more women." Indeed so, Dr Annie Evans.