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Shot in the dark

Register • Apr 10, 2014 at 9:00 PM

Depo Provera (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate) commonly known as “The Shot” is the most popular form of birth control in our community, but how much do we really know about the drug so many women trust and use?

The pharmaceutical giant Phramacia & Upjohn Inc. introduced Depo Provera in 1967. Being rejected by the FDA initially did not deter the pharmaceutical giant from testing their product on animals and humans.

In 1968, a test conducted on beagles and Rhesus monkeys found Depo Provera increased risk of breast and uterine cancer.

From 1967 to 1978, the Grady Clinic in Atlanta, Ga., tested Depo Provera on 14,000 minority and low income women. These tests were carried out without the women’s knowledge of unsafe side effects caused by the new drug.

During the 11 years of testing, several test subjects contracted cancer, experienced complications and even died.

Negative testing results were withheld from the FDA by Robert Hatcher, director of the study. Hatcher did not send a single annual report, which is required by law, during more than a decade long study.

The FDA denied approval for the contraceptive again in 1978, their findings being that Depo Provera increased risk of breast cancer and increased risk of birth defects in human fetuses exposed to the drug.

But the drug was still distributed among certain populations.

In the 1970s, the president of United Native Americans estimated that of the total Native American population of 800,000 as many as 42 percent of the women of childbearing age and 10 percent of the men were sterilized.

In the 1980s, Phoenix and Oklahoma City Indian Health Services administered Depo Provera to Native American women despite its rejection by the FDA.

In 1983, Depo Provera was shot down by the FDA for a third time.

In 1987, the FDA changed its regulations and began to require cancer testing be done on rats and mice instead of dogs and monkeys. Fortunately for Phramacia & Upjohn Inc., Depo Provera did not cause cancer in rats and mice.

Unfortunately for lower-income and minority women, Depo Provera was finally approved by the FDA in 1992 in the face of opposition from the National Women’s Health Network, the National Black Women’s Health Project and the Women’s Health Education Project.

In 2004, Pfizer Inc., which purchased licensing rights for Depo Provera from Phramacia & Upjohn Inc., submitted information to the FDA stating that women who receive the Depo Provera injection experience significant loss of bone mineral density. The FDA responded by giving Depo Provera a “Black Box Warning” meaning all possible side effects would have to be discussed with any person receiving the drug.

Also in 2004, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found women using Depo Provera increased their risk of contracting chlamydia and gonorrhea by 300 percent.

From 1994 to 2000, USAID provided almost 42 million units of Depo Provera, mostly to African countries like Mozambique, Tanzania and Nigeria.

Recent studies of Depo Provera users in the U.S. show 33 percent are under the age of 19, 84 percent are black women and 74 percent are considered low-income.

Depo Provera side effects include, but are not limited to a 200 percent to 400 percent increased risk of breast cancer, osteoporosis, cervical cancer, excessive bleeding, weight gain, difficulty getting pregnant, sterilization, loss of sex drive, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, nervousness, abdominal pain, hair loss, facial hair growth and increased risk of contracting HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Groups like Planned Parenthood, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development, Columbia University and others have been and still are aggressively pushing this horrible drug on unsuspecting women who are unaware of Depo Provera’s harmful and potentially fatal side-effects, both foreign and domestic.

Truth is, you don’t have to look hard to find a life affected by Depo Provera. Erie County Health Department has been pushing the world’s most dangerous and carcinogenic contraceptive since the early ’90s.

Protect yourselves, your children and the women in your life. Educate yourself on the dangers of Depo Provera when considering birth-control options.

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