News Thursday September 15, 2011

Contraceptive pill adherence may be improved by longer-lasting supplies, study suggests

A new study suggests that women are more likely to continue taking an oral contraceptive pill over a longer period of time, if they are given a supply to last for several months from the start.

The 661 women involved in the study were given either a three month or a seven month supply of oral contraceptives at a family planning clinic in New York City. Six months later, 51% of those given a seven month supply were still taking their pills, while only 35% of the three month supply group were doing so.

The results were not a surprise to the researchers. According to Reuters, Dr. Katherine O’Connell White, the lead researcher at Tufts University School of Medicine and Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, said that the results “make sense”, but it is necessary to confirm the theory with research, especially as clinical data can have an effect on whether health insurers choose to change their coverage policies.

Current insurance coverage for birth control pills in the United States is limited in terms of supply, with only a set amount of pills able to prescribed in one go. This precaution was originally due to health concerns, such as the possibility of the pill causing high blood pressure. Regular doctor’s appointments were seen as a necessary way to reduce the risk as any ill effects could be caught early. This is not such a concern anymore, but the limitations remain in place, and earlier studies have indicated that it may have an impact on adherence.

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