§ Ms. Richardson
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will write to the consultant obstetricians in charge of all maternity units advising caution in the use of Depo Provera post-partum and in the first six weeks of breast feeding;
(2) if he will ensure that any leaflets produced by his Department about contraceptive methods state that Depo Provera is a method of last resort, should be used with caution in the post-partum period and not for at least six weeks of breast feeding.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
A revised data sheet on Depo Provera has been published following the issue of the product licence for long-term contraceptive use on 30 July 1984 and this will be made available to all doctors in the United Kingdom including consultant obstetricians. It says that Depo Provera is intended for long-term use only in women for whom other contraceptives are contraindicated or have caused unacceptable side effects or are otherwise unsatisfactory. The data sheet also states that because of the risk of heavy or prolonged bleeding in some women, the drug should be used with caution in the puerperium and that if the puerperal woman will be breast feeding, the initial injection of Depo Provera should be delayed until six weeks post-partum. The product has not yet been marketed for long-term contraceptive use. When it is, advice on the use, contra-indications, warnings, precautions and side effects will be included in the literature sent to doctors with the product. At that time, the chief medical officer of each of the Health Departments will write to doctors to emphasise that Depo Provera is licensed only for use where no other contraceptive method is suitable and to underline the importance of patient counselling and informed consent. We are discussing with the manufacturer the content of an information leaflet for patients which will stress these points and emphasise the need for caution. Copies of the leaflet will then be supplied by the company to doctors for issue to patients.