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Depo-Provera is a powerful contraceptive or birth-control medication that is administered by injection every eleven to thirteen weeks, unlike the more common daily oral tablet. It has been used for over 13 years in the United States and over two decades in Europe. The popularity of depo provera, especially among more active younger women, is its convenience and the added protection of not worrying about missing a pill during the monthly cycle. There are, however, substantial and potentially life changing drawbacks to its use.
More specifically, there is a strong causal relationship between the use of depo provera and the development of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that occurs in women of post menopausal age. As hormone levels in women decline during menopause, many women experience a reduction in bone density, making them susceptible to fractures throughout the skeletal system. One of the stated benefits of the now restricted Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) was that it helps slow down or stabilize the rate of bone loss. Now that far fewer women are using HRT to treat menopausal symptoms, drugs like Fosamax are available to help treat bone loss associated with reduced hormone levels.
Unfortunately, Depo-Provera, which contains a powerful variant of the hormone progestosterone in time release form, has been shown to increase the loss of bone density in women of all ages. This includes teen and young adult women who are in critical stages of natural bone growth. The most disconcerting fact, however, is that studies show that this bone loss may be irreversible.
Amazingly, scientific studies disclosed this fact nearly 10 years ago, yet the drugs manufacturer failed to do so until forced by the Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”).
Food & Drug Administration
Because of these studies and reports from users and their physicians, the FDA issued an order on November 14, 2004 directing all Depo-Provera packaging and promotional materials to contain the following “black box” warning: “Use of Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection may cause you to lose calcium stored in your bones. The longer you use Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection the more calcium you are likely to lose. The calcium may not return completely once you stop using Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection.
Loss of calcium may cause weak, porous bones (osteoporosis) that could increase the risk that your bones might break, especially after menopause. It is not known whether your risk of developing osteoporosis may be greater if you are a teenager when you start to use Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection. You should use Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection long term (for example, more than 2 years) only if other methods of birth control are not right for you.”
Doctor’s have also been advised by the drug manufacturer in a “Dear Doctor” letter to be aware of the fact that woman who use the Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection may lose significant bone mineral density. Such bone loss is especially significant with increased duration of use and may not be reversible. The letter goes on to state that it is unknown if use of Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection during adolescence or early adulthood, a critical period of bone accretion, will reduce peak bone mass and increase the risks of hip and joint fractures in later life. In conclusion, the manufacturers warning continues, Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection should be used as a long-term birth control method — longer than 2 years — only if other birth control methods are inadequate.
But is this enough?
Pfizer, the manufacturer of Depo-Provera continues to actively promote the product to younger women despite the fact that they acknowledge that the danger of the use of the product during adolescence and early adulthood is completely unknown. Instead, they promote its convenience, its cost effectiveness and its ability to protect women from pregnancy without having to remember to take a pill every day. It allows for sexual spontaneity!
Are You on Depo-Provera or Have You Been?
Legal professionals have expressed an interest in studying complaints from women who have experienced a loss of bone density and have taken or currently take Depo-Provera. If you are currently taking Depo-Provera, it might be advisable to discuss a bone density test with your physician or medical advisors. If you are taking or have taken Depo-Provera injections and subsequently suffered a loss of bone density, been diagnosed with Osteoporosis or suffered a bone fracture please fill out this form and an attorney will review your complaint for possible inclusion in a legal action being considered.