USA and United Kingdom: Recognize Damage to the Health of Norplant Users. Brief History of the NorplantOctober 29, 1999
Source: The Economist, 2-9-95, p. 75; BBC’s news website, 4/30/99; The Pro-Life Infornet; Population Council, “Norplant, levonosgestrel implants, Concierge Manuel”, New York, 1992.
Last April, the BBC, Hoeschst Marion Russell, Norplant distributor in Great Britain, withdrew this drug due to a considerable decrease in sales. caused because, since 1995, the British Medical Association recommends gynecologists not offer Norplant as a contraceptive option, due to its side effects. In 1998, there were more than 400 women who tried to sue Hoeschst for the commercialization of Norplant, but they had to leave the trial because they were denied legal assistance.
Also in the USA, in May, after several years of systematically denying the side effects of the contraceptive-abortive drug Norplant, the American Home Products company acknowledged that this product is dangerous and even proposed an extra-judicial agreement to the almost 40 thousand women who they sued for the collateral effects of it.
According to the newspaper The Dallas Morning News, Norplant producers were negotiating an economic agreement with the 39,580 users who engaged in 3,732 collective lawsuits nationwide, for having suffered damages of various kinds that were not noticed by the laboratories. According to other media, the lawyers declared that the agreement could reach 100 million dollars.
American Home Products – the seventh largest medical products company in the world – and its subsidiary Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories -which produces the Norplant- recognized what life advocacy groups had been holding for a long time.
Norplant is a drug consisting of three, five or six silicone tubes filled with a synthetic hormone that is released little by little, after being implanted under the skin of the forearm. They act for about five years as a contraceptive and as an abortifacient, preventing the nesting of the fertilized ovum, if the first contraceptive instance fails.
According to the plaintiffs, the use of the drug gave them irregularity problems in menstrual cycles, overweight, severe headaches, and strong depressions, in addition to the invasive surgery that involves the removal of the cylinders.
However, Wyeth-Ayerst spokesman Doug Petkus said the company wants to “continue to emphasize the importance of keeping Norplant as a valuable contraceptive option for women.”
In another lawsuit brought to the company for misinformation about the side effects of Norplant, the Court of Appeals of the 5th. judicial circuit decided, last January in the midst of a great controversy, that the American Home Products did not need to warn their patients about the potential dangers of their products if the doctors knew them. The company based its defense by denying wrongdoing by suppressing information on all possible effects of Norplant, ensuring that both doctors and patients “are familiar” with the side effects.
According to the Population Council (PC) Manual, Norplant’s research and development activities began at the Population Council in 1966. The fundamental researcher of the project was Dr. Horacio Croxatto, then a graduate student at the research center contraception of the PC.
The PC says that “the generous and loyal financial support” for the development of the research owes to the following institutions, the International Development Research Center of Canada (IDRC), the US Government Agency for International Development (USAID, AID). ), the Ford Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the George Hecht Fund, as well as several individual members of the Rockefeller family.
The main institutions that collaborated in the introduction of Norplant in the market, declares the PC, were the named and Family Health International (FHI), the Program for Appropriate Technology Health (PATH), the Association for Voluntary Surgical Sterilization (AVSC), WHO and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories.
The PC states that four international training centers were established to disseminate Norplant, in Chile, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, and Indonesia, which trained representatives of more than 200 institutions from developing countries.
The Population Council is also grateful for the collaboration of the Finnish International Development Agency (FINNIDA), the General Service Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Population Crisis Committee.
Important events in the development of Norplant implants:
-1974: is experimented in Chile with Silastic capsules
-1975: third phase of the trial in Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Jamaica and, the Dominican Republic.
-1980-82: the product is introduced in Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Indonesia and Thailand. In the United States, clinical trials of the second and third stages are just beginning.
-1983: Finland is the first country to approve the use of Norplant.
-1984: WHO evaluates Norpalnt and declares it “effective and advantageous method of contraception”.
-1984-85: product introduction begins in Bangladesh, China, Philippines, Ghana, Haiti, Nepal, Nigeria, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Zambia.
-1985 the IPPF includes the Norplant among its family planning services. It is approved in Sweden, Ecuador and Indonesia.
-1986-87 is approved in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Venezuela.
-1988-89: approved in Chile, China, Czechoslovakia and Kenya
-1990: approved in Bangladesh, USA and Singapore.
-1991-92: it is approved in Mauritius, Mexico, the Soviet Union, Palau, Rwanda and Jamaica. It reaches one and a half million users.
With a certain amount of cynicism, the Population Council thanks the 55,000 women around the world that the first experiments were made on. According to a well-known Human Life International report presented years ago, Norplant’s experimentation, at least in Bangladesh, did not meet the minimum conditions for such cases. Smoothly and simply tens of thousands of women were forcibly imposed, which makes us suspect that in other parts of the world it was the same. The antecedents of contraceptive coercion by all the entities that participated in the development of this contraceptive are known. FINISH