Spain will also investigate the health threats of Bayer’s Diane 35 drug


Yesterday, the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (MSNA) announced it decided to suspend the sale of Diane 35, a drug that is prescribed to combat acne, but that is also provided as contraceptive pill. The agency made the decision to issue such suspension after four women died mysteriously after using the drug.

As explained by the MSNA, Diane 35 may be the trigger for what is known as thromboembolic disease, which first reports say, were the cause of the deaths in France.  MSNA director, Dominique Maraninchi, said Wednesday that it is unclear among experts what kinds of acne can be treated with this drug and that they have concluded that taking Diane 35 quadruples the risk of thromboembolic disease.

Meanwhile in Spain, the warning issues by the French agency prompted the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (Competent Authority) to begin a review of the drug due to its effects in generating excessive risk of blood clots (venous thromboembolism).

Two suspicious ingredients, when combined, seem to be the ones responsible for the deadly reaction. Drugs like Diane 35 and Dianette, contain cyproterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol, which are thought to cause thromboembolic disease. The Spanish review scheduled for next week, will be conducted by the European medical and pharmaceutical watchdog.

In France, the MSNA decided to stop funding these pills a few weeks ago, and finally opted for the full suspension because of the four deaths that apparently were caused by thromboembolic disease.

In Spain, the use of the drug was authorized since 1981, but in 2002 was restricted to treat “androgen-dependent diseases in women, such as acne, those which are accompanied by seborrhea or by inflammation or formation of nodes (acne Papulopustulosa, nodular acne), androgenic alopecia and mild forms of hirsutism” says AEMPS.

In total it is estimated that in Spain some 100,000 to 150,000 women are treated with Diane 35. Despite the alert issued by France’s MSNA, doctors are still allowed to prescribe the drug to patients until a final review is concluded.

The well-known risk created when combining  cyproterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol, is also related to obesity, immobility and history of varicose veins and thrombosis in the family.

Bayer, which manufactures Diane 35, issued a note showing surprise for the decision of the French health authorities. They say that “Bayer is not aware of any new evidence that may lead to change the positive risk-benefit assessment of Diane 35” which has been marketed for 25 years in over one hundred countries and had never been removed for security reasons.

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