IT'S one of the latest advertised emergency contraceptive pills on the market, and is considered accessible and effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies. But Qualcare, the sole distributors of Pregnon in Jamaica, is cautioning women to use it only in cases of emergency, and not as a substitute for a regular contraceptive method.
District manager at Qualcare Limited, Othneil Brown, said like most doctors he too has a problem with women abusing Pregnon, which should only be taken as an emergency contraceptive method.
"They (doctors) prefer if you use it only as recommended as an emergency method. [It should be used] when either your regular contraceptive method has failed -- like a break in condoms perhaps -- or when you have had probably a sexual assault, but not necessarily to use it as your main means of contraception," he said.
"It is an emergency method and that is the way we recommend it," he added.
Pregnon has been available in Jamaica for the past two years and is available in most pharmacies for about $800 per pack. There are no restrictions to purchasing it, but Brown stressed that it is not an abortifacient.
"If a woman suspects that she might be pregnant or if a woman is pregnant, we don't recommend that the woman use it, because it is not abortifacient. It will not abort an ongoing pregnancy."
The pill contains a high dosage of progesterone which prevents the release of the eggs from the ovaries while increasing the thickness of the mucus in the cervix. This thickness creates a barrier so the sperm cannot get from the vagina to the uterus.
For the pill to be effective it has to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Although the recommendation on the package insert suggests that a user should take one tablet up 72 hours after sex and then take the other one 12 hours after the first, Brown said it is okay to take both at the same time.
"The World Health Organisation has said that they will support patients taking those tablets together. It is much better, because the patient doesn't necessarily stand the risk of forgetting to take the second one or taking it too late, so they can take both together if they wish," he said.
The district manager said women have been very receptive to Pregnon, because it is safe and it prevents unwanted pregnancies
"Many people are on a regular contraceptive method, but on occasion it may fail or they might forget. They might just be in a situation where they can't necessarily help themselves and they have intercourse and they don't have any protection; for cases like those, definitely it is their only recourse," he said.
But while the pill is effective, there are some side effects. Some women experience discomfort in their stomach, changes in their menstrual cycle and nausea after taking it.