Risk of venous thromboembolism with drospirenone-containing oral contraceptives

Brown, Dana A.; Vartan, Christine M.
June 2011
American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy;6/1/2011, Vol. 68 Issue 11, p1003
Academic Journal
Purpose. The risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) with drospirenone-containing oral contraceptives (OCs) is reviewed. Summary. Increasing attention and media have raised awareness and concern about whether drospirenone-containing OCs increase the risk of VTE. Two studies found that when compared with nonuse of OCs, use of drospirenone-containing OCs was associated with a fourfold to over sixfold increased risk of having a thrombotic event. One of these studies found an increased risk associated with short-term use of drospirenone-containing OCs; however, this study was limited by the small number of participants taking drospirenone despite the large number of study participants. The cohort study that found a higher rate of VTE among drospirenone users was only able to indicate an association between drospirenone use and VTE, not a cause-and-effect relationship. Three studies concluded that drospirenone-containing OCs did not appear to cause an increased risk of VTE. The hemostatic studies found no difference in the various variables assessed between drospirenone- and desogestrel-containing OCs or between cyclic and continuous administration of drospirenone-containing OCs. These results should be interpreted cautiously, as each study had limitations, such as not controlling for confounders (e.g., recent surgery, immobility, obesity), not providing p values to assess homogeneity between treatment groups, and not providing total numbers of participants or specific types of OCs. Patients who receive drospirenone-containing OCs should be educated regarding the signs and symptoms of VTE, along with an appropriate action plan. Conclusion. The majority of available data does not support the conclusion that drospirenone-containing OCs pose an increased risk of VTE compared with other OCs.


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