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Ulipristal Acetate Found Effective Emergency Contraception

Non-inferiority trial finds the drug associated with a lower pregnancy rate than levonorgestrel

FRIDAY, Jan. 29 (HealthDay News) -- For women who require emergency contraception, ulipristal acetate may be an effective alternative to levonorgestrel, according to a study published online Jan. 29 in The Lancet.

Anna F. Glasier, M.D., of the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, and colleagues randomly assigned 2,221 women to receive either a single, supervised dose of 30 mg of ulipristal acetate or 1.5 mg of levonorgestrel. They also conducted a meta-analysis of their non-inferiority trial and a previous trial comparing the efficacy of ulipristal acetate and levonorgestrel.

Among 1,696 women who received emergency contraception within 72 hours, the researchers found that ulipristal acetate was associated with a lower pregnancy rate than levonorgestrel (1.8 versus 2.6 percent). Among 203 women who received emergency contraception after 72 to 120 hours, no pregnancies occurred in the ulipristal acetate group compared to the three in the levonorgestrel group. The researchers' meta-analysis also showed that ulipristal acetate was associated with a lower pregnancy rate (1.4 versus 2.2 percent).

"Although ulipristal acetate could possibly be made available from pharmacies and nurses, it cannot be made as easily accessible as levonorgestrel until there are more safety data," the authors write. "Health care professionals might be tempted to recommend ulipristal acetate only to women who present after 72 hours and those most at risk of pregnancy because they have had sexual intercourse mid-cycle. However, many women are unsure (or wrong) about the details of their menstrual cycle, so this approach could lead to confusion and risk litigation if someone becomes pregnant after being given a method that is less effective but more easily accessible than ulipristal acetate."

The study was supported by HRA Pharma; several authors reported financial relationships with the company.

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