Why are British women being denied the revolutionary new birth control pill?
Drug company bosses have been accused of holding back the UK launch of a breakthrough contraceptive pill that could transform women’s birth control.
The drug Slynd contains only progestogen – it is given to women who cannot take estrogen. It causes fewer side effects and is more effective at preventing pregnancy than other non-oestrogen drugs, such as the popular mini-pill.
But the kicker is that while other birth control pills have to be taken within a short window of time each day or become ineffective, Slynd can be taken anytime within 24 hours.
British women are being denied a revolutionary new contraceptive pill that has fewer side effects than other alternatives and is more effective, eliminating the narrow window of other options
The breakthrough tablet has been widely available in America and Australia since 2019 and received UK approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in March last year.
But The Mail on Sunday has learned that manufacturer Exeltis has failed to apply for approval from the NHS financial watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – a key step before any drug can be launched in the UK, and a process this usually takes a year.
Exeltis has also not submitted any information about Slynd to the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, which evaluates and provides guidelines for all contraceptives, and would give no indication as to when this might be the case.
Doctors hailed Slynd as revolutionary and hoped it would be available by summer. However, this seems increasingly unlikely.
The general practitioner and expert in women’s health, Dr. Philippa Kaye said, “If a drug is good, why hold it back? Why is it withheld from women who could benefit from it?’ She added: “Most types of pills have to be taken within a three hour window but women are not robots – we forget or we go away for the weekend. Anything that gives the system a little more wiggle room and more choices is extremely positive.”
In America, Slynd is one of the most expensive birth control pills on the market, costing around £147 a month, while in the UK prescription pills typically cost the NHS under £8 a month.
Insiders suggest Exeltis may be on its heels as it is unwilling to negotiate a cheaper deal with the NHS. “In America, the insurance companies pay for it,” the source said. “The company is making its money, so they may see little reason to start in the UK.”
There are two types of birth control pills: the combination pill, which contains synthetic versions of the hormones estrogen and progestin, and the minipill, also known as the progestogen-only pill, which contains synthetic progestin. Both prevent pregnancy, but some women cannot take the combined pill, including those who have had breast cancer or blood clots, or have a family history, as estrogen can increase risks.
Women who suffer from migraines often cannot take the combination pill because it makes the symptoms worse. The gynecologist Dr. Ellie Rayner, founder of The Maternity Collective, which offers childbirth classes, said she has many patients who would benefit from the new pill, adding: “Anything that gives women an easier way to take a pill more reliably is a good one Matter. ‘
One woman who agrees is Lucy Jones, 39, a financial adviser from London. The married mother-of-two took the minipill when she discovered she was pregnant with her first child, Harry, now six.
She said: “I had been on the mini-pill since my late teens. I used to tape the packet to my light switch to make sure I took it at the same time every morning.”
But in 2014, food poisoning led to what Lucy calls “the happiest accident of my life.”
She said: “I was sick and that must have flushed the pill out of my system. I didn’t even realize I was pregnant for about three months – my periods were pretty irregular anyway, so I didn’t realize I was late.
“I took a pregnancy test and was blown away when I saw two blue lines. “I had just found my dream job and was in a new relationship with my now husband. To say it was stressful would be an understatement.
“My son is brilliant. But it stopped me from taking the pill. My husband and I now use condoms – and not using one once resulted in my getting pregnant a second time. We don’t want any more kids, so a pill that causes less hassle would make things easier.”
Last night an Exeltis spokesman could not explain why Slynd was not launched in the UK, adding: “It is not yet available and the exact timing cannot be confirmed.”