MHRA issues new guidance over emergency contraceptive pills containing levonorgestrel

Posted 20 September 2016

Date: 20 Sep 2016

Type: Sexual and Reproductive Health News

Author: FSRH Policy Team

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued new guidance for patients over emergency contraceptive pills containing levonorgestrel after they were found to not be as effective in some women taking enzyme-inducing medication.

Yesterday, the MHRA published a new patient information sheet to advise women on what they need to do to ensure they receive the most effective methods of emergency contraception.


Read our Clinical Effectiveness Unit’s advice for clinicians on the use of levonorgestrel emergency contraception (LNG-EC) in women taking enzyme-inducing medications.

Dr Diana Mansour, Chair of FSRH’s Clinical Effectiveness Committee and Vice President Standards said:

‘Women taking enzyme-inducing medication for epilepsy, tuberculosis, HIV and fungal infections, metabolise emergency contraceptive pills containing levonorgestrel or ulipristal acetate at a much faster rate, which reduces their effectiveness. It is nevertheless important to emphasise that this does not impact on the safety or possible side effects of emergency contraceptive pills.

Indeed, women should be supported to choose the most effective and suitable method of emergency contraceptive for them and the MHRA patient information leaflet is an important tool that will help women who take these medications to effectively protect themselves against unintended pregnancy. It’s worth noting that many women don’t realise that the copper intrauterine device – Cu-IUD (coil) is actually the most effective form of emergency contraception. Not only does the Cu-IUD provide effective ongoing protection from unintended pregnancy with a failure rate of only 0.1% each year, but also, enzyme-inducing medications do not impact on its effectiveness.’