"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).
Thromboembolic Disorders and Other Vascular Problems
Stop Natazia if an arterial or venous thrombotic (VTE) event occurs.
The use of COCs increases the risk of venous thromboembolism. However, pregnancy increases the risk of venous thromboembolism as much or more than the use of COCs. The risk of VTE in women using COCs has been estimated to be 3 to 9 per 10,000 woman-years. The risk of VTE is highest during the first year of use. Data from a large, prospective cohort safety study of various COCs suggest that this increased risk, as compared to that in non-COC users, is greatest during the first 6 months of COC use. Data from this safety study indicate that the greatest risk of VTE is present after initially starting a COC or restarting (following a 4 week or greater pill-free interval) the same or a different 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 Natazia at least 4 weeks before and through 2 weeks after major surgery or other surgeries known to have an elevated risk of thromboembolism.
Start Natazia 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
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.
Endometrial biopsies performed in a subset of subjects in a Phase 3 Natazia clinical trial did not reveal any unexpected or concerning findings for subjects taking COCs. [See ADVERSE REACTIONS.]
Discontinue Natazia 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 Natazia 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 a small increased relative risk of developing gallbladder disease among COC users.
Carbohydrate and Lipid Metabolic Effects
Carefully monitor prediabetic and diabetic women who are taking Natazia. COCs may decrease glucose tolerance in a dose-related fashion.
Consider alternative contraception for women with uncontrolled dyslipidemia. A small proportion of women will have adverse lipid changes while on COCs.
Women with hypertriglyceridemia, or a family history thereof, may be at an increased risk of pancreatitis when using COCs.
If a woman taking Natazia develops new headaches that are recurrent, persistent, or severe, evaluate the cause and discontinue Natazia 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.
Breakthrough 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.
Women who are not pregnant and use Natazia, may experience amenorrhea. Based on patient diaries, amenorrhea occurs in approximately 16% of cycles in women using Natazia. Pregnancy should be ruled out in the event of amenorrhea occurring in two or more consecutive cycles. Some women may encounter amenorrhea or oligomenorrhea after stopping COCs, especially when such a condition was pre-existent.
Based on patient diaries from three clinical trials evaluating the safety and efficacy of Natazia, 10-23% of women experienced intracyclic bleeding per cycle. A total of 38 subjects out of 2,266 (1.7%) discontinued due to metrorrhagia or irregular menstruation.
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. Oral contraceptive 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 Natazia 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 [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
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.
Women who take medications that are strong cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) inducers (for example, carbamazepine, phenytoin, rifampicin, and St. John's wort) should not choose Natazia as their oral contraceptive while using these inducers and for at least 28 days after discontinuation of these inducers due to the possibility of decreased contraceptive efficacy. [See DRUG INTERACTIONS and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY.]
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 (PATIENT INFORMATION).”
- 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 the increased risk of VTE compared to non-users of COCs is greatest after initially starting a COC or restarting (following a 4 week or greater pill-free interval) the same or a different COC.
- Counsel patients that Natazia does not protect against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Counsel patients on WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS associated with COCs.
- Inform patients that Natazia is not indicated during pregnancy. If pregnancy occurs during treatment with Natazia, instruct the patient to stop further intake.
- Counsel patients to take one tablet daily by mouth 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 women who are taking strong CYP3A4 inducers (for example, carbamazepine, phenytoin, rifampicin, and St. John's wort) not to choose Natazia as their oral contraceptive due to the possibility of decreased contraceptive efficacy.
- Counsel patients to use a back-up or alternative method of contraception when weak or moderate enzyme inducers are used with Natazia.
- 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 Natazia for 9 consecutive days.
- Counsel patients that amenorrhea may occur. Rule out pregnancy in the event of amenorrhea in two or more consecutive cycles.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
In a 24 month carcinogenicity study in mice dosed orally with dienogest by gavage with doses of 5, 15 and 50 mg/kg/day (males) and 10, 30 and 100 mg/kg/day (females), the systemic exposures in the females were 1.1, 3.5, and 10.6 times the exposure (AUC of dienogest) of women taking a 3 mg dose. A statistically significantly higher incidence of stromal polyps of the uterus was observed in females given 100 mg/kg. In a similar study in rats given 1, 3, and 10 mg/kg for 104 weeks, 0.2, 1.4, and 6.1 times the exposure of women taking a 3 mg dose, there were no statistically significant drug-related neoplasms.
Dienogest was not mutagenic in in vitro reverse mutation tests in bacteria, in chromosome aberration tests in human peripheral lymphocytes, mouse lymphoma cells, and Chinese hamster lung cells, and tests of unscheduled DNA synthesis (UDS) in rat and human liver cells. Dienogest was also negative in an in vivo mouse micronucleus test, a rat liver initiation-promotion model, and an in vitro/in vivo UDS test in female rats.
Animal Toxicology and/or Pharmacology
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 COCs 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 Natazia have been established in women of reproductive age. Efficacy is expected to be the same for postpubertal adolescents under the age of 18 and for users 18 years and older. Use of this product before menarche is not indicated.
Natazia has not been studied in postmenopausal women and is not indicated in this population.
Patients with Renal Impairment
The pharmacokinetics of Natazia has not been studied in subjects with renal impairment, but an effect requiring dose adjustment is unlikely to be present.
Patients with Hepatic Impairment
The pharmacokinetics of Natazia has not been studied in subjects with hepatic impairment. 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.]
Body Mass Index
The safety and efficacy of Natazia in women with a BMI of > 30 kg/m² has not been evaluated.
Last reviewed on RxList: 2/28/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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