"Nov. 20, 2012 -- Oral contraceptives should be made available without a prescription to reduce unintended pregnancies, according to a newly published opinion by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Thrombotic and Other Vascular Events
Stop GENERESS Fe if an arterial or deep venous thrombotic (VTE) event occurs. Although the use of COCs increases the risk of venous thromboembolism, pregnancy increases the risk of venous thromboembolism as much or more than the use of COCs. The risk of venous thromboembolism in women using COCs is 3 to 9 per 10,000 woman-years. The excess risk is highest during the first year of use of a COC. Use of COCs also increases the risk of arterial thromboses such as strokes and myocardial infarctions, especially in women with other risk factors for these events. The risk of thromboembolic disease due to oral contraceptives gradually disappears after COC use is discontinued.
If feasible, stop GENERESS Fe at least 4 weeks before and through 2 weeks after major surgery or other surgeries known to have an elevated risk of thromboembolism.
Start GENERESS Fe no earlier than 4 weeks after delivery, in women who are not breastfeeding. The risk of postpartum thromboembolism decreases after the third postpartum week, whereas the risk of ovulation increases after the third postpartum week.
COCs have been shown to increase both the relative and attributable risks of cerebrovascular events (thrombotic and hemorrhagic strokes), although, in general, the risk is greatest among older ( > 35 years of age), hypertensive women who also smoke. COCs also increase the risk for stroke in women with other underlying risk factors.
Oral contraceptives must be used with caution in women with cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Carcinoma of the Breasts and Reproductive Organs
Women who currently have or have had breast cancer should not use GENERESS Fe because breast cancer is a hormonally-sensitive tumor.
There is substantial evidence that COCs do not increase the incidence of breast cancer. Although some past studies have suggested that COCs might increase the incidence of breast cancer, more recent studies have not confirmed such findings.
Some studies suggest that COCs are associated with an increase in the risk of cervical cancer or intraepithelial neoplasia. However, there is controversy about the extent to which these findings may be due to differences in sexual behavior and other factors.
Discontinue GENERESS Fe if jaundice develops. Steroid hormones may be poorly metabolized in patients with impaired liver function. Acute or chronic disturbances of liver function may necessitate the discontinuation of COC use until markers of liver function return to normal and COC causation has been excluded.
Studies have shown an increased risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma in long-term ( > 8 years) COC users. However, the attributable risk of liver cancers in COC users is less than one case per million users.
Oral contraceptive-related cholestasis may occur in women with a history of pregnancy-related cholestasis. Women with a history of COC-related cholestasis may have the condition recur with subsequent COC use.
High Blood Pressure
For women with well-controlled hypertension, monitor blood pressure and stop GENERESS Fe if blood pressure rises significantly. Women with uncontrolled hypertension or hypertension with vascular disease should not use COCs.
An increase in blood pressure has been reported in women taking COCs, and this increase is more likely in older women and with extended duration of use. The incidence of hypertension increases with increasing concentration of progestin.
Studies suggest the relative risk of developing gallbladder disease may be increased among COC users.
Carbohydrate and Lipid Metabolic Effects
Carefully monitor prediabetic and diabetic women who are taking GENERESS Fe. COCs may decrease glucose tolerance in a dose-related fashion.
If a woman taking GENERESS Fe develops new headaches that are recurrent, persistent, or severe, evaluate the cause and discontinue GENERESS Fe if indicated.
An increase in frequency or severity of migraine during COC use (which may be prodromal of a cerebrovascular event) may be a reason for immediate discontinuation of the COC.
Unscheduled (breakthrough or intracyclic) bleeding and spotting sometimes occur in patients on COCs, especially during the first three months of use. If bleeding persists or occurs after previously regular cycles, check for causes such as pregnancy or malignancy. If pathology and pregnancy are excluded, bleeding irregularities may resolve over time or with a change to a different COC.
Patient diaries from the clinical trial of GENERESS Fe showed that on the first cycle of use, 37% of subjects taking GENERESS Fe had unscheduled bleeding and/ or spotting. From Cycle 2-13, the percent of women with unscheduled bleeding/spotting ranged from 21-31% per cycle. For those women with unscheduled bleeding/spotting, the mean number of days of unscheduled bleeding/spotting was 5.2 in the first cycle of use and ranged from 3.6 – 4.2 in cycles 2-13. A total of 15 subjects out of 1,677 (0.9%) discontinued the study prematurely due to metrorrhagia or irregular menstruation.
Women who are not pregnant and use GENERESS Fe may not have scheduled (withdrawal) bleeding every cycle or may experience amenorrhea (absence of any bleeding and spotting). The incidence of amenorrhea in the clinical trial increased from 8.1% of the subjects in Cycle 2 to 18.4% by Cycle 13. For those women who had scheduled (withdrawal) bleeding, the average duration of bleeding per cycle in Cycles 2-13 was 3.7 days.
If the patient has not adhered to the prescribed dosing schedule (missed one or more active tablets or started taking them on a day later than she should have), consider the possibility of pregnancy at the time of the first missed period and take appropriate diagnostic measures. If the patient has adhered to the prescribed regimen and misses two consecutive periods, rule out pregnancy.
Some women may encounter amenorrhea or oligomenorrhea after stopping COCs, especially when such a condition was pre-existent.
COC Use Before or During Early Pregnancy
Extensive epidemiological studies have revealed no increased risk of birth defects in women who have used oral contraceptives prior to pregnancy. Studies also do not suggest a teratogenic effect, particularly in so far as cardiac anomalies and limb-reduction defects are concerned, when taken inadvertently during early pregnancy. GENERESS Fe use should be discontinued if pregnancy is confirmed.
The administration of oral contraceptives to induce withdrawal bleeding should not be used as a test for pregnancy [see Use In Specific Populations].
Women with a history of depression should be carefully observed and GENERESS Fe discontinued if depression recurs to a serious degree.
Interference with Laboratory Tests
The use of COCs may change the results of some laboratory tests, such as coagulation factors, lipids, glucose tolerance, and binding proteins. Women on thyroid hormone replacement therapy may need increased doses of thyroid hormone because serum concentrations of thyroid-binding globulin increase with use of COCs.
A woman who is taking COCs should have a yearly visit with her healthcare provider for a blood pressure check and for other indicated healthcare.
In women with hereditary angioedema, exogenous estrogens may induce or exacerbate symptoms of angioedema. Chloasma may occasionally occur, especially in women with a history of chloasma gravidarum. Women with a tendency to chloasma should avoid exposure to the sun or ultraviolet radiation while taking COCs.
Patient Counseling Information
See FDA-Approved Patient Labeling
- Counsel patients that cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious cardiovascular events from COC use, and that women who are over 35 years old and smoke should not use COCs.
- Counsel patients that this product does not protect against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Counsel patients on WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS associated with COCs.
- Counsel patients to chew one tablet daily by mouth without water at the same time every day in the exact order noted on the blister. Instruct patients what to do in the event pills are missed. See What Should I Do if I Miss any Pills section in FDA-Approved Patient Labeling.
- Counsel patients to use a back-up or alternative method of contraception when enzyme inducers are used with GENERESS Fe.
- Counsel patients who are breastfeeding or who desire to breastfeed that COCs may reduce breast milk production. This is less likely to occur if breastfeeding is well established.
- Counsel any patient who starts COCs postpartum, and who has not yet had a period, to use an additional method of contraception until she has taken a light green tablet for 7 consecutive days.
- Counsel patients that amenorrhea may occur. Pregnancy should be ruled out in the event of amenorrhea in two or more consecutive cycles.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
[See WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS.]
Use In Specific Populations
There is little or no increased risk of birth defects in women who inadvertently use COCs during early pregnancy. Epidemiologic studies and meta-analyses have not found an increased risk of genital or non-genital birth defects (including cardiac anomalies and limb-reduction defects) following exposure to low dose COCs prior to conception or during early pregnancy.
The administration of COCs to induce withdrawal bleeding should not be used as a test for pregnancy. COCs should not be used during pregnancy to treat threatened or habitual abortion.
Women who do not breastfeed may start COCs no earlier than four weeks postpartum.
When possible, advise the nursing mother to use other forms of contraception until she has weaned her child. Estrogen-containing OCs can reduce milk production in breastfeeding mothers. This is less likely to occur once breastfeeding is well-established; however, it can occur at any time in some women. Small amounts of oral contraceptive steroids and/or metabolites are present in breast milk.
Safety and efficacy of GENERESS Fe have been established in women of reproductive age. Efficacy is expected to be the same in postpubertal adolescents under the age of 18 years as for users 18 years and older. Use of this product before menarche is not indicated.
GENERESS Fe has not been studied in postmenopausal women and is not indicated in this population.
The pharmacokinetics of GENERESS Fe have not been studied in subjects with renal impairment.
No studies have been conducted to evaluate the effect of hepatic disease on the disposition of GENERESS Fe. However, steroid hormones may be poorly metabolized in patients with impaired liver function. Acute or chronic disturbances of liver function may necessitate the discontinuation of COC use until markers of liver function return to normal [see CONTRAINDICATIONS, and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Body Mass Index
The safety and efficacy of GENERESS Fe in women with a BMI > 35 kg/m² have not been evaluated.
Last reviewed on RxList: 7/15/2011
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Additional Generess Fe Information
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Find out what women really need.