§ Dr. John Dunwoody
asked the Minister of Health when the Committee on Safety of Drugs is expected to report on the possible long-term effect of oral contraceptives.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
After making a comprehensive review of the toxicity data relating to the two oestrogens used in the oral contraceptives commercially available in the United Kingdom, the Committee has advised that one of these can cause serious liver damage to rats when administered to them in very high doses over a long period. The data relating to the other oestrogen used is not sufficient to enable the Committee to assess whether it can cause similar effects.
The Committee states that the relevance of the findings in rats to the prolonged use by women of oral contraceptives is uncertain. It has, in fact, no evidence that the incidence of liver disorders in women taking oral contraceptives is increased, and while women have not been taking oral contraceptives for a comparable proportion of their life span a group of 341W women in Puerto Rico have been taking the oestrogen in question for nine years without apparent detriment.
In bringing its findings to the notice of the medical profession today through the medical journals, the Committee adds that, since the drugs have a therapeutic as well as a social value and are obtainable only on a doctor's prescription, it does not feel it is justifiable on the present evidence to deny the public the benefit of these drugs.
The Committee intends to arrange for further long term toxicity tests to be undertaken.