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Implanon fails as 500 fall pregnant

New research into the effectiveness of a popular contraceptive implant have shown that more than 500 women have fallen pregnant despite opting to use the method.

Since its initial approval in September, 1999 over 1.3 million units have been prescribed in the UK.

The implant, which costs £90, is designed to stop women getting pregnant for three years.

But figures obtained by Channel 4 showed that 1,600 women complained to the medicines watchdog, including 584 who said they had unwanted pregnancies.

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

Nine of the 584 women who reported an unwanted pregnancy used the terms "device failure", "device dislocation", "device ineffective" and "device difficult to use" to describe their experience.

Channel 4 also said 14 women had made claims against their local health trust and said the NHS had paid out more than £200,000 in compensation to women who fell pregnant or were injured by the implant.

Implanon has since been replaced by manufacturers MSD with Nexplanon, which has a new preloaded applicator and can be detected by X-ray or CT scan.

In a statement, manufacturers MSD said: "MSD is confident in the efficacy and safety of Implanon, a contraceptive medicine that has been prescribed in the UK since its initial approval in September 1999.

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

"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% effective."

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"The failure of Implanon in the cases in the above article could be due to incorrect counselling and incorrect insertion technique. In our directorate the failure rate has been as expected by the manufacturer, clients being well informed and no risks taken. Nurses take the responsibility for insertion and all aspects are thoroughly covered before the procedure is undertaken. It would seem to me that as long as the device is inserted correctly and at the correct time with no risk of
pregnancy failure is unlikely. Of course all practitioners have to believe what they are told and if our clients give incorrect information then as long as what is said is documented the responsibility has to rest with the client. It would be interesting to know more details of the failures" - Name and address supplied