Shot in the dark

Apr 10, 2014


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.



Yes, and pregnancy is "dangerous" because it can kill the mother. This conspiracy-against-minorities rant is unbalanced, and a convenient perspective for males who would like to seize more control of the reproductive decisions of the females in their lives. Depo can be empowering for a women who wishes to avoid pregnancy, no matter what. Pregnancy has risks, too, not the least of which is poverty, for young single mothers.

The last sentence should read, "Educate yourself on the RISKS AND BENEFITS of ALL your birth-control options."


Hey Damon, why don't you do an article on planned parenthood and the minority/Eugenics link? That would make for interesting fodder, especially for all the liberals who publically support such a vile organization.


I think every 11 or 12 year old girl should be put on Depo as a State mandate. The only way to get off of it, would be for both "would be" parents to take an IQ test, parenting classes and show proof of income to support a child.

If and only if you can pass all three the Depo can be removed.

No Depo should ever be removed if you are accepting any form of government assistance what so ever.

That's what I think.

A Young Adult's...

Once you start talking about "mandates" you start removing the freedoms our forefathers fought for... I understand where you are coming from, but it is completely absurd to mandate that ALL 11 or 12 year old girls do anything.


How about rather then subjecting females to drugs, we find an easily reversible way to clamp the vas deferens of males so that they cannot impregnate anyone until they can demonstrate they are emotionally and financially able to support any child they father? An existing non-invasive solution may be as another poster suggested awhile back is to bring back cock cages. Cages have the additional benefit of reducing rape.

Come to think of is extremely offensive for Mr. Newell as a convicted rapist and therefore an adjudicated women hater and proven sexist; to attempt to dictate contraception options to women.


There is always the Ricky Vitte birth control method, of educating 12 year old boys to resist the urge by watching porn and masturbating.


True dat


Is it possible for Damon Newell to write an article that does not have "poor black America" or "the white man is putting us down" spread throughout nearly every sentence? Is is possible for Damon to realize that we have a black president? Is it possible for Damon to realize that the lead detective in Sandusky, in charge of plenty of local busts, is black? Dana Newell is this detective, one can only assume there is some relation between the two. Is it possible for Damon Newell to wake up and see that "racism" will never die until people stop throwing the race card at every single thing that happens to black people? Recently Hank Aaron, one of the best baseball players of all time, compared modern day Republicans to KKK members and people who put him down while he was playing baseball! How ridiculous is that? If you truly want "racism" to stop, them stop thinking every single thing that happens to you is racist. Wake up and take responsibility for your actions, the rest will fall in place for you.


Also, I am saddened to see that the Register no longer posts that Damon is a convicted felon at the bottom of Damon's articles. He is a convicted felon, a rapist to be precise, and is also registered as such. I would not let humas as fowl as him within 100 yards of my children.

Amythe K

Why would they need to post it? There's plenty of people willing and happy to blab it all over their comments. I didn't realize that felons were not allowed to ever be anything else but that. Neither can they voice any opinions or help to educate their community? Ridiculous! If God can forgive you and I for whatever we've done (and I'm sure he has already forgiving Damon) then why can't you people move on? He has taken the initiative to better himself. I for one enjoy his columns and appreciate the bit of knowledge he apportions to this Lil town.


Seriously, did you find this particular article to be well written and intended to impute knowledge?

I do not bring up his felony history unless it is relevant to the discussion and in this case it is highly relevant. The fact is rape is a hate crime against women and no man with that kind of record ought to be lecturing women on contraception.

Also, as somebody with a lot more education than Mr. Newell in the medical field; I can state without hesitation that this article is poorly written and factually misleading. If he wants to t write opinion pieces based on medical science, he should at a minimum provide the citations from peer reviewed journals to substantiate his factual statements.


Re: "Why can't you people move on?"

I dunno. Why don't you ask his victim if SHE's forgotten his crime, and has "moved on?"


This "article" is rather one-sided. To be fair, the DP shot is often the birth control method of choice for women in greater risk of being raped or those whose controlling spouses would not allow for birth control. These factors correlate with many women in Africa, thus the reason it is so prevalent there.

Truth or Dare

Despite Mr. Newell's past, I would give him a fist bump for this article! Why? One little paragraph, in-particular stands out, "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." Yet the FDA approved it, knowing the side effects. Lotsa pressure I'm sure, and profits. All the more reason one might want to think twice before becoming a human ginney pig for any pharmaceutical company. I would be curious to know how many caucasian, lower to middle class or affluent women chose to get the shot for it's convenience and weren't informed of it's side effects, and effected by it.

It truly boggles the mind that any man feels they have the right to "mandate" the control of any woman's/adolescent female's reproductive system! What a gross mentality! Waiting for the day they invent a shot for men that will prevent impregnating a female, yet leave them with the possibility, the high risk of prostate cancer, breast cancer (don't think it isn't possible in men), excessive weight gain, bone density loss, loss of hair and a 400% higher risk of contracting chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, etc.. If this article tells any woman/girl reading it anything, it's to just say NO to such a drug and/or sex, and if you don't, insist your spouse /partner have their little testes clipped and always, always have them double raincoat themselves, just incase they should be stepping out, keeping his STD's to himself!

As these big pharmaceutical companies poison our bodies' organs through a plethora of prescription drugs, not just this one, it leaves me wondering just how big their overseas profits are and all with the blessing of our wonderful FDA.


I am not aware that chlamydia and gonorrhea are side effects of medication. They might be a consequence, because of unprotected sex.


Exactly, these sexually communicated diseases are consequences of promiscuity, sexual assaults, and or unprotected sex with an infected partner.


I too was questioning how it would raise the risks of STDs. Maybe on the shot you have more sex with out condoms, so then you would raise the risk of STDs that way?

A Young Adult's...

The fact that the Register allows this race-baiter to write articles for them is shameful. Is it for page hits? Is he a qualified journalist?

Mr. Newell, you will continue to be an ignorant buffoon until you realize that your race-baiting ignites the racism that is present in our community. Do you think you are helping the cause against racism?

Truth or Dare

Just incase, I wasn't implying anything regarding STD's being transferred due to this birth control. A false sense of protection can be though. A woman may be protecting herself from pregnancy by the shot, the pill, the iud, whatever, but no form of birth control or immunization will prevent the spreading of STD's. Condoms may cut down the risk, but are really no guarantee as well, so yes, abstinence is the best preventer of not only unwanted pregnancy, but the spread of STD's in women that today will kill them. STD's symptoms show up in men much faster. In women and because of how we are built, symptoms take longer, even lying dormant for years.
The best protection, abstinence and a monogamous relationship period end. Promiscuity is a 2-way street!

By the way, I'm Caucasian, labeled a White, and don't feel race-baited by this article. Wouldn't want to ignite that flame, eh, which by the way is a two way street as well. It's best to leave it silent, right? Ignorance is ignorance! Still curious to know, again, why the testing was done on 14,000 minority, low income women? Why them?


I was wondering why minority women too!


If he provided the citation to the peer reviewed journal article that supports this claim it would be easy to determine the actual population for the Phase III clinical trials. My guess is this was just one test site and that there were other test sites that he did not name.


Wish there was someone actually educated speaking about Depo Provera . If it wasn't safe it wouldn't be available. And it has nothing to do with minorities, stds, bvds, or lcds. LOL Funny how quick the men are to bash something that helps women. Its not just for birth control either. Its used to control abnormal cycles as well.

Amythe K

I wasn't speaking to the authors writing skills or lack thereof or his medical knowledge. His point in writing the article hardly seems race driven. It sounds like he wants to get a discussion started about depo. Nothing I'm interested in personally but I applaud the Register for giving him a chance.

Dr. Information

Oh another side note, why do you people believe the FDA. Anything with FED in it, is full of lies. They approve things daily that are horrible for you.


"From 1967 to 1978, the Grady Clinic in Atlanta, GA. tested Depo Provera on 14,000 minority and low income women. This sentence, is the only reason he wrote the article. If it had stated 14,000 rich, white women, he would have never written about it. His articles are ALWAYS based on his racism. Oh by the way, when he raped that girl, he MANDATED that from that point on she would be a rape victim. Pretty sick isn't it?