Morning after pill to get new warning labels

Mar 27, 2014 | News

Photo courtesy Anka Grzywacz, WikiCommons

Photo courtesy Anka Grzywacz, WikiCommons

By Kelly Townsend

Packaging for the morning after pill will soon include a new warning for women who weigh 176 pounds or higher under new Health Canada requirements.

In a new report, Health Canada is asking manufacturers to update their packaging labels to include a warning that emergency contraceptives, commonly known as the “morning after pill,” lose their effectiveness for women between 165 and 175 pounds and are ineffective for women above 176 pounds.

The drug uses levonorgestrel as its active ingredient, a hormone that prevents ovulation. The hormone is used in both birth control and emergency contraceptives, but the latter uses a higher dose. Clinical trials have suggested that the hormone’s efficacy is reduced in women 165 pounds and over.

Next Choice and Plan B are among the emergency contraceptive manufacturers listed by Health Canada that are being asked to provide new warning labels.

BMI not an indicator in study

Leslie Meerburg, Health Canada’s media relations officer, confirmed to Humber News that Body Mass Index is not a contributing factor. 176 pounds is a healthy weight for women 5 feet 9 inches or taller. Women at a height below 5 feet 4 inches can be considered obese and still use the drug.

A 2011 study by QMI Agency reported that the average height of a Canadian woman is 170 cm or 5 feet, six inches and the average weight is 166 pounds.

Contraceptives have been making headlines recently. A study released in February said that women taking birth control may have an increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis. A similar study also linked obesity to the increased risk of MS.

Health Canada says women concerned about the use of contraceptives should consult their doctor.