Morning-after contraceptive pill 'fails in obese'

Morning after pill

A French pharmaceutical company has warned a morning-after contraceptive pill may be ineffective in heavier women, following a Scottish study.

Norlevo, made by HRA Pharma, was less effective in women over 11st 3lb (75kg) and ineffective in women over 12st 8lb (80kg), the study suggested.

The US is reviewing guidance as the active ingredient in Norlevo is used in other brands of morning-after pill.

It is thought the drug is absorbed by fat, lowering the dose in the blood.

The study by the University of Edinburgh in 2011 investigated Norlevo's active ingredient, levonorgestrel.

It indicated obese women taking the emergency contraceptive were four times more likely to become pregnant than women taking the drug who were a normal weight.

The report's authors recommended other emergency contraceptives were used in overweight and obese women, such as devices that could be implanted into the womb.

Frederique Welgryn, HRA Pharma's head of women's health, said the results were "surprising" and had led to "a lot of discussions" about the effectiveness of levonorgestrel.

The labelling on Norlevo is expected to be changed in 2014.

The development has raised concerns about other morning-after pills.

The US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, said it was "currently reviewing the available and related scientific information on this issue".

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