Gianvi Generic Birth Control Pill Carries Same Risks as Yaz

Women taking or considering the <"">Gianvi birth control pill should know that this medication is a generic version of the controversial Yaz birth control pill. Both Gianvi and Yaz contain a synthetic form of progestin called drospirenone, which may be associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, gallbladder disease and other Yaz side effects.

Gianvi, approved by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in April 2010, is made by Teva Pharmaceuticals. The only other birth control pills which contain ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone are YAZ and Yasmin, as well as Ocella and Zarah, which are generic versions of Yasmin, and Beyaz, which contains the same estrogen-progestin combination as YAZ plus 0.451 mg of levomefolate calcium.

Drospirenone can lead to hyperkalemia, a condition caused by excessive amounts of potassium in the blood. Therefore, contraceptives like Gianvi should not be taken by high risk patients, such as those with renal insufficiency, hepatic dysfunction and adrenal insufficiency. Women who use contraceptives made with drospirenone should undergo periodic blood testing to monitor their potassium levels, as hyperkalemia can lead to serious heart and health problems. Adverse Events reported to the FDA involving drospirenone birth control pills include heart arrhythmias, electrolyte imbalance, hyponatremis, hyperkalemia, hyperkalemic arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, tachycardia, bradycardia, myocardial infarction, stroke, transient ischemic attack, blood clots, embolisms, and sudden death.

In 2009, a study published in the British Medical Journal reported that birth control pills made with drospirenone were associated with more blood clots than those made with other forms of progestin. The study compared 1,524 patients on the pill and 1,760 who were not. There was a five fold increase in the number of women who suffered a dangerous type of blood clot called venous thrombosis in women taking the pill compared to those who weren’t. Among women who used oral contraceptives that contained drospirenone, there was a 6.3-fold increase in venous thrombosis. The researchers found that low-estrogen oral contraceptives made with a type of progestin called levonorgestrel carried the lowest risk of blood clots.

It is unclear if young women taking Gianvi realize that this generic birth control pill poses the same health risks as Yaz. While Yaz side effects have received a lot of press in the past year because of litigation surrounding the drug, Gianvi has had little notice. Women taking any oral contraceptive, especially those made with drospirenone, need to discuss the possible side effects with their doctors.

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