CALGARY – New drug heralds a new era for women’s health and contraception, says doctor.
Nextellis is a new birth control pill on the market for Canadian women.
What makes it different from the rest is that it uses a plant-derived estrogen that occurs naturally in the body.
Most birth control pills contain ethinylestradiol, a synthetic estrogen, while Nextstellis uses estetrol (E4).
Dr Brian Hauck, obstetrician and gynecologist at Foothills Medical Center, says it doesn’t affect the liver the way traditional pills do.
“So the estrogen in all previous birth control pills increases the risk of developing blood clots by two to three times. Now the risk is still very low, but it is certainly significant and we must be aware of it. So this estrogen, because it does not have the same effect on the liver, the best data indicates that it does not carry the same increased risk of blood clots.
Hauck says that’s not the only benefit of the new drug, either.
“[It’s] also very favorable in terms of side effects. And then the other thing which is also almost certainly a big advantage is that it does not stimulate the hormone receptors in the breast like the previous estrogen does. This estrogen actually blocks some of the hormone receptors in the breast, which is a plus as well.
Hauck says research on E4 has been going on for several years.
“And finally, now he’s got regulatory approval. Canada is actually one of the first to get regulatory approval and have it available, so where we do we have a head start over some other countries.
The drug was approved by Health Canada in March.