Healthcare: On the Agenda - Implant fails to stop pregnancies

In a nutshell

More than 500 women have fallen pregnant despite using a popular long-term contraceptive implant, Implanon. A Channel 4 News investigation revealed that 584 women who had used the hormone-filled implant reported unwanted pregnancies to medicines watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

What is Implanon?

Implanon is a contraceptive implant fitted under the skin that contains etonogestrel (a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone). It is estimated that more than one million implants have been sold in the UK since Implanon was first licensed in 1999. The device costs £90 and is designed to prevent women becoming pregnant for up to three years.

PR strategy

Channel 4 News broke the story on 4 January, sparking massive media interest. The MHRA subsequently issued a safety warning and message on its website for anyone concerned about Implanon and for healthcare professionals who may be asked for advice. The MHRA also issued an information statement available for the media. An MHRA spokesperson said: 'No contraceptive is 100 per cent effective. When used correctly Implanon is an effective and reliable contraceptive that prevents pregnancy for up to three years.'

Coverage

The story appeared in national and international media, including the front page of the Daily Mail.

548 women reported unwanted pregnancies to MHRA

1,600 adverse reactions to Implanon were reported.

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