Risk Versus Benefit

If I told you that taking a pill would increase your risk for blood clots to 6 out of 10,000 persons, would you consider this to be a great risk?

If I told you that taking a newer formulation of this pill would increase your risk for blood clots to 14 out of 10,000 persons, would this be too great of a risk?

Most likely, you would want to know what pill and why it was needed. Then you would compare the benefits of taking to the risk(s).

The pills are birth control pills. Birth control pills increase the risk of blood clots. A recent study of women aged 15 - 49 years showed that different types of progesterone in the commonly prescribed combination (estrogen/progesterone) birth control pills had different risks for blood clots. The newer formulations had the higher risk (14 out of 10,000 persons) for blood clots.

There is no added benefit associated with the new formulations

Vinogradova, Y et al. "Use of combined oral contraceptives and risk of venous thromboembolism: nested case-control studies using the QResearch and CPRD databases" BMJ 2015;350:h2135 http://dx.doi.org/10/1136/bmj.h2135

Author
Sharan Abdul-Rahman, MD

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