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Depo-Provera FAQ

Q: What is Depo-Provera?

Depo-Provera is an injectable contraceptive used to prevent pregnancy. As part of a class of medications called "progestins," Depo-Provera works by preventing ovulation - the release of eggs from the ovaries - and by thinning the uterine lining. Depo-Provera is manufactured by Pfizer and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1992.

Q: Are any requirements involved?

In order to receive Depo-Provera, the patient must not be pregnant. Patients may be given a pregnancy test prior to being prescribed the drug. In addition, a pap smear and a physical exam may be required as well. Assuming everything is fine, the patient will then be injected with Depo-Provera by her healthcare provider.

Q: Does Depo-Provera protect patients from HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

While Depo-Provera acts as birth control, it doesn't prevent the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or other STIs. To reduce the risk of STIs, including HIV, Depo-Provera patients should consider using condoms.

Q: Who shouldn't take Depo-Provera?

Patients who have a history of breast cancer or who currently have breast cancer shouldn't take Depo-Provera. Even if a patient suspects she may have breast cancer, she shouldn't be injected with the contraceptive. In addition, other patients who shouldn't take Depo-Provera include the following:

  • Patients who've had a stroke
  • Patients who've had a blood clot in their lungs or limbs
  • Patients who have liver problems or liver disease
  • Patients who have unexplained vaginal bleeding

Q: Is Depo-Provera associated with any medical complications?

Like other drugs, Depo-Provera is associated with medical complications. Minor complications include weight gain, headaches, and irregular menstrual cycles. In many cases, Depo-Provera patients will stop having menstrual periods. In other cases, patients may have spotting or irregular bleeding.

Major complications associated with Depo-Provera include bone density loss and allergic reactions. In addition, if a patient becomes pregnant while taking Depo-Provera or experiences stabbing abdominal pain, she should be examined for a possible ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy in which the embryo is implanted in the fallopian tube. If an ectopic pregnancy is left untreated, the fallopian tube could burst and cause death.

Q: Has the FDA taken any action regarding Depo-Provera?

Under FDA rules, black box warnings are issued when a drug may cause death or serious injury. Depo-Provera's drug label contains a black box warning regarding the risk of bone-density loss. According to the warning, women who use Depo-Provera may lose bone density. When Depo-Provera is used long-term, the risk for bone loss may increase. In some cases, it may not be possible to reverse bone loss.

Patients who suffer from bone loss may be at risk for developing osteoporosis in their later years. Osteoporosis can cause the bones to become frail and break easily. Consequently, a patient shouldn't use Depo-Provera for more than two years, unless she is unable to use any other viable form of birth control.

Q: Can manufacturers be held liable for injuries caused by their medications?

Like other drugs, Depo-Provera must meet patient safety standards. Under product liability law, manufacturers and sellers have a duty to ensure that their contraceptives are safe and defect-free. Contraceptives shouldn't carry product defects such as manufacturing defects, defective warnings, and design defects. If a drug manufacturer or seller releases an unreasonably dangerous and defective contraceptive onto the marketplace, it can be held liable for any resulting injuries.

For example, if a patient took a contraceptive that later caused injury, she could file a lawsuit against the drug's manufacturer and sellers. If the plaintiff won her lawsuit, she could be awarded injury damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Q: Can my doctor be held liable for injuries caused by a medication?

When a doctor provides medical treatment, the treatment must meet certain patient standards. If the healthcare is subpar and results in harm to the patient, the doctor may be liable for medical malpractice. For example, if a doctor inadvertently injected Depo-Provera into a breast cancer patient and the patient later suffered injuries, the doctor could be held liable for medical malpractice.

Talk to an Attorney About Your Depo-Prevera Claim

If you've been harmed by Depo-Provera or have concerns about other medications and treatments, a lawyer's assistance can be very helpful. They can help determine whether your issues have been reported by others, are the result of a documented defect, or otherwise entitle you to compensation for your suffering. Contact a product liability attorney near you to learn more.

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