Weekend Herald

Four con­tra­cep­tive pills in short sup­ply

- Amy Wig­gins Health · Women's Health · Pfizer · Birth Control

Four com­monly used con­tra­cep­tive pills are about to be­come un­avail­able in New Zealand un­til Fe­bru­ary next year.

Ac­cord­ing to Phar­mac, the coun­try’s sup­ply of Norimin, a com­bined oral con­tra­cep­tive pill, has run out of stock and is not likely to be avail­able un­til mid- Fe­bru­ary.

There is a lim­ited sup­ply of tem­po­rary al­ter­na­tives Ne­con or Brevi­nor 28 in some ar­eas, but these are also ex­pected to be ex­hausted by the mid­dle of this month.

Brevi­nor 1/ 28 is also out of stock and no more is ex­pected to ar­rive un­til mid- Fe­bru­ary.

Sup­plier Pfizer told Phar­mac it had been un­able to source an al­ter­na­tive brand that was chem­i­cally equiv­a­lent.

About 9000 women take Brevi­nor 1/ 28 and about 16,000 women take Norimin/ Ne­con/ Brevi­nor, Phar­mac said.

The is­sue lay with the man­u­fac­turer and was an is­sue be­fore Covid- 19 but had been ex­ac­er­bated by the pan­demic, Phar­mac act­ing medical direc­tor Dr Ken Clark said.

There were on­go­ing global con­straints on all ethiny­loestra­diol and norethis­terone prod­ucts, he said.

“We recog­nise and ac­knowl­edge this sit­u­a­tion will be dis­rup­tive for some peo­ple. If you take these oral con­tra­cep­tives, we en­cour­age you to talk with your pre­scriber about al­ter­na­tives.”

There might be more Ne­con that could be made avail­able to cover the pro­longed stock short­age of Norimin and Phar­mac would pro­vide more in­for­ma­tion about that as soon as pos­si­ble, Clark said.

Fam­ily Plan­ning na­tional medical ad­viser Dr Beth Mes­sen­ger said the short­age would leave many peo­ple with­out their first choice of con­tra­cep­tive.

“The con­tra­cep­tive pill is still the most com­monly used con­tra­cep­tive tool in New Zealand. Women need a re­li­able sup­ply to pro­tect against pregnancy and to sup­port them with a range of medical con­di­tions,” Mes­sen­ger said.

“At Fam­ily Plan­ning we write more than 32,000 con­tra­cep­tive pill pre­scrip­tions each year — we know how many peo­ple are po­ten­tially im­pacted by this short­age.

“We’ve al­ready been con­tacted by GPs look­ing for ad­vice and sup­port about other con­tra­cep­tive op­tions that can be of­fered.”

If you cur­rently had a sup­ply of any of the pills, you should con­tinue tak­ing them as nor­mal un­til you ran out, she said.

You might be able to use an­other pill type while the sup­ply is dis­rupted or con­sider a dif­fer­ent con­tra­cep­tion type such as the in­jec­tion or an IUD.

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