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FDA investigates possible increased blood clot risk from some new birth control pills

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating concerns that several new birth control pills may increase the risk for potentially life-threatening blood clots more than older versions.

In an alert issued Tuesday, the FDA said it was “aware of two newly published studies” that found what appeared to be an increased risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE)—blood clots— in women taking birth control pills containing the synthetic version of the hormone progestin called drospirenone.Older birth control pills tend to contain a version of progestin called levonorgestrel.

“This risk is reported to be up to two to three times greater than the risk of VTE associated with using levonorgestrel-containing pills,” the FDA said. Other studies, however, have not reported an increase in risk, the agency said.

“The FDA is currently evaluating the conflicting results from these studies and will look at all currently available information to fully assess the risks and benefits of drospirenone-containing birth control pills. FDA will continue to communicate any new safety information to the public as it becomes available,” the agency said.

Among the pills containing drospirenone are Yaz, which is sold generically as Gianvi and Loryna; Yasmin, which is sold generically as Ocella, Syeda and Zarah; and Beyaz and Safyral.

The FDA stressed that women taking any of the these pills should not stop without first talking to their doctor. But women taking the pills should immediately contact their doctor if they develop any symptoms of blood clots, including persistent leg pain, severe chest pain or sudden shortness of breath.

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