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Don't throw pills away -- NZMA

PRESS RELEASE TO: All Health Reporters/Chief Executives/Press Officers

FROM: Dr Pippa MacKay, NZMA Chairman
DATE: 19 June, 2000
SUBJECT: Don't throw pills away -- NZMA

"Paul Holmes was being completely irresponsible when he told New Zealand women to throw away their third generation oral contraceptives," says New Zealand Medical Association Chairman Dr Pippa MacKay.

Mr Holmes made his comments last Friday on the Holmes show during a discussion of research by Professor David Skegg which showed that 20 women had died from pulmonary embolism during the last 10 years, after taking oral contraceptives.

"Yes, there is a risk with taking oral contraceptives, and the risk is slightly higher for third generation contraceptives, but the overall risks are miniscule, and much lower than the health risks associated with pregnancy," Dr MacKay said.

"Women should not throw their pills away and risk an unwanted pregnancy. If they are worried, they should talk to their GP.

"If Paul Holmes is going to comment on health issues, it is essential that he takes a responsible approach. The health of New Zealanders is too important to be the subject of such cavalier remarks."

Dr MacKay said the study did not reveal any new risks. It was carried out to count how many deaths had occurred, and work out the risk of fatality. The results were similar to other studies.

Many studies have confirmed that for most women the oral contraceptive is an extremely safe and reliable form of contraception. The NZMA endorses the Ministry of Health's advice that women keep taking the pill and discuss any concerns with their GP.


Dr Pippa MacKay (03) 351 6198 (wk) (025) 484 718 (mobile)

Shani Naylor Communications Manager (04) 472 4741 (wk) (025) 284 1081 (mobile)

Shani Naylor Communications Manager New Zealand Medical Association (04) 472 4741 (025) 284 1081

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