Open discussion on women’s BMI as a factor in EC failure

On Saturday, May 31, 2014, ECEC and ICEC hosted the event, Women’s BMI as a factor in EC failure: An open discussion on the data available to date, at the Lisboa Congress Center in Lisbon, Portugal. The goal of this event was to present the data, facilitate a transparent information-sharing process, and engage in a scientific discussion. During the panel, which had approximately 250 people in attendance, representatives from Gedeon Richter, HRA Pharma, and the World Health Organization presented their respective analyses of the data they have available on this issue (see here for the event’s programme). In addition, and for those who were unable to attend the event, we hosted a webinar on Wednesday, June 4, which replicated the panel’s presentation. 

In January 2014, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) began a review of emergency contraceptives in order to assess whether increased body weight and body mass index (BMI) reduce the efficacy of these medicines in preventing an unintended pregnancy following unprotected sexual intercourse or contraceptive failure. We are attentive to the EMA’s recommendations on this issue.

Swiss position paper regarding EC released

In Switzerland, a paper endorsed by gynecologists, pharmacists, and family planning center health workers has been released, in which these cadres of health care professionals support a common position to the three methods of EC available in Switzerland (levonorgestrel EC pills, ulipristal acetate EC pills, and copper IUDs). The paper has already been sent to pharmacies and family planning centers across the country and will be published on the gynecologists’ association website in the next few days. Read the paper in German and French.

UK: New guidance to improve access to high quality contraceptive services for youth includes EC

In the UK, new guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) aims to improve access to high quality contraceptive services, especially for young people up to the age of 25.

Recommendations on emergency contraception (EC) include:

  • ensuring that young women (and young men) know where to obtain free EC;
  • informing young women that an intrauterine device is a more effective form of EC;
  • ensuring that young people have timely access to EC; and
  • ensuring arrangements are in place to provide a course of oral emergency contraception in advance in those circumstances where the regular contraceptive method being used, such as condoms or the pill, is subject to ‘user failure.’

Click here to access the NICE guidance.

EC Medical and Service Delivery Guidelines now in Hungarian

Pro Familia Hungaria’s Affiliation Society of Békés County and the Reproductive Health Working Group of the Regional Committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences at Szeged have translated ICEC’s Emergency Contraceptive Pills: Medical and Service Delivery Guidelines into Hungarian. In an effort to fulfill its mission to increase knowledge and access to EC in Europe, ECEC welcomes collaboration with local partners to promote the development and/or updating of local EC guidelines. Contact us for further information at info@ec-ec.org.

New EC guidelines template

ECEC is excited to introduce a new guidelines template, which intends to aid in the development or updating of EC guidelines in European countries according to the best available evidence. Download Emergency Contraception: A guideline for service provision in Europe here.

Developed with the support of the European Society of Contraception, this tool addresses the key issues that should be included in all clinical EC guidelines.

Please contact us at info@ec-ec.org if interested in translating or adapting this guide for your country.

WHO guidelines frame EC in human rights context

WHO has released new guidelines on priority actions needed to ensure that different human rights dimensions are systematically and clearly integrated into the provision of contraceptive information and services. Regarding EC, the guidelines recommend that EC be included within the essential medicine supply chain; that special efforts be made to provide comprehensive EC information and services to displaced populations, those in crisis settings, and survivors of sexual violence; and that every individual has the opportunity to make an informed decision about using modern contraception, including EC, without discrimination. These guidelines complement existing WHO recommendations for sexual and reproductive health programs, including guidance on family planning. Read the full report here.

Survey: 17% of Irish women have used EC

A Behavior and Attitudes survey carried out on behalf of Bayer Healthcare found that in the last two years, approximately 17% of women had accessed EC, with 5% accessing it more than once. Read more about the survey here.

FRA releases report on violence against women in the EU

On March 5, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) is hosting a conference to launch the results of the largest violence against women survey ever undertaken in the EU.  Findings are based on interviews with 42,000 women across the 28 EU Member States and focus on women’s experiences of physical, sexual, and psychological violence and the consequences of such violence.  The conference, officially titled “Violence against women across the EU: Abuse at home, work, in public and online” serves as a forum for about 250 decision makers and practitioners to discuss the survey findings and their importance to EU and national policy-making. For further information about the conference and report, visit here. Please also view ICEC’s Emergency Contraception for Rape Survivors: A Human Rights and Public Health Imperative factsheet for information on why provision of EC is a critical component of post-rape care for women.

European Medicines Agency to review EC

Beginning in January 2014, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) started reviewing emergency contraceptives to assess whether increased body weight and body mass index (BMI) reduce the efficacy of these medications. Based on the results of this review, EMA will assess whether any changes should be made to the product information for emergency contraceptives containing levonorgestrel or ulipristal acetate. For further information, read the EMA press release.

European Cross-National Study About EC Use and Attitudes

A study published in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care in 2013 sought to identify knowledge of and attitudes towards EC among women from five European countries. Sexually-active women from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom were asked about their use of and opinions on EC in an internet-based survey. Of the 7,170 women who completed the survey, 30% reported having had unprotected sexual intercourse during the past 12 months, and of these women, 24% reported having used EC. The most common reasons given for not using EC were not perceiving themselves to be at risk for pregnancy and not thinking of EC as an option. One-third of respondents indicated that they do not know how EC works, and several respondents expressed misconceptions about EC, such as that it can lead to infertility. 79% of women agreed that EC is a responsible choice to prevent unwanted pregnancy, but nearly one-third of women who used EC felt uncomfortable or judged when obtaining it. The authors conclude that EC is underutilized by three-quarters of the women surveyed, and women do not recognize that they may be at risk of pregnancy when contraception fails. Since there were still several misbeliefs about EC expressed among the women surveyed, the authors call for better education of the public on EC.