Volume 32, Number 6, November/December 2000

This article is also available in format


Are U.S. Women Interested In Long-Acting Methods?

The article by Koray Tanfer and colleagues [Why are U.S. women not using long- acting contraceptives? 2000, 32(4):176-183 & 191)] asks worthwhile questions but bases its answers on outdated and incomplete information.

The data that they use in their analysis cover the years 1993-1995, the first three years in which the contraceptive injectable Depo-Provera was on the market in the United States. They do not acknowledge that today, five years later, the injectable owns about 10% of the prescription birth control market in the United States.1 In addition, during the past 12 months, new prescriptions are up 15%.2

Furthermore, the data used in the article were collected from women who were 20-37 in 1991. Long-acting methods are well-suited for women who want to postpone pregnancy for several years. Market research shows that women who are younger than 20 or older than 37 are also satisfied users of this method.3 The needs and concerns of neither of these age-groups are represented in the data, providing a skewed view of the use of the hormonal injectable.

Government studies show that the injectable follows only oral contraceptives and the condom in frequency of use: the diaphragm, the implant and the IUD all are used less frequently than the injectable.4 Studies also have shown that long-acting contraceptives have helped reduce the pregnancy rate among young women in the United States.5 In addition, while sterilization is the most commonly used method of contraception in the United States, recent studies have shown that more than 10% of women younger than 30 who have been sterilized regret their decision.6 Clearly, U.S. women need more contraceptive choices.

The hormonal injectable presents a viable, effective and convenient option. By being based on outdated and incomplete information, the article by Tanfer and colleagues does a disservice to American women by drawing conclusions that do nothing to promote U.S. women's contraceptive options.

Kristin Elliott
Senior Director,
Public Relations and Patient Education
Pharmacia Corporation
Peapack, NJ

1. Retail and Provider Perspective Service, IMS Health, July 2000.

2. National Prescription Audit Plus, IMS Health, August 2000.

3. Pharmacia market research, various sources.

4. Kalorama Information, LLC, Women's Health: The Market for Menopause, Fertility, and Contraceptive Drugs, Kalorama Information, March 2000, page 129.

5. Henshaw SK, Unintended pregnancy in the United States, Family Planning Perspectives, 1998, 30(1):24-46.

6. Westhoff C and Davis A, Tubal sterilization: focus on the U.S. experience, Fertility and Sterility, 2000, 73(5):913-922.

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