Hundreds pregnant in Britain despite contraceptive implant

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More than 500 women in Britain have become pregnant despite using a contraceptive implant fitted in their arms, new figures showed Wednesday.

Thousands of women used the Implanon implant, which was designed to stop them getting pregnant for three years by releasing hormones into their blood from a tiny tube in their arm.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also confirmed it had received a total of 1,607 adverse drug reaction reports linked to Implanon, relating to 2,888 incidents of suspect reactions in users.

The National Health Service has paid out more than 200,000 pounds (310,000 dollars, 235,000 euros) in compensation to women who fell pregnant or were injured by the implant, according to media reports.

Manufacturers MSD have since replaced Implanon with Nexplanon, which has a different applicator and can be detected by X-ray or CT scan.

June Raine, a director at the MHRA, told Channel 4 television: "We worked closely with the company to enable the new version to be developed. They are fully aware of all the concerns that we have."

A lawyer for some of the women claiming for personal loss and damage said many had not realised the pre-loaded applicator had failed to release the implant into their bloodstream.

Stephanie Prior said: "Nexplanon has a new preloaded applicator which is designed to reduce the risk of insertion difficulties and it is radio-opaque so that it can be identified on an X-ray or CT scan if necessary.

"I have clients who fell pregnant as they were unaware that the Implanon device had not been inserted into their arm and they suffered psychological difficulties as a consequence of falling pregnant and later miscarrying or having to make the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy."

In a statement, MSD said it was "confident in the efficacy and safety of Implanon" but suggested that many of the women who became pregnant had had the device badly fitted by a medical practitioner.

"The basis for successful use of Implanon is a correct and carefully performed subdermal insertion of the implant in accordance with the product instructions," it said.

"If the implant is not inserted in accordance with the instructions and on the correct day, this may result in an unintended pregnancy. In addition, no contraceptive is 100 percent effective."

© 2011 AFP

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