Over two million women around the world rely for contraception on a synthetic hormone manufactured by a U.S.-based multinational, the Upjohn Company.
The drug is depot medroxyprogesterone acetate. Upjohn's brand name for it is Depo-Provera; its nickname around the world is "The Shot." Injected into the arm or buttock in a 150 milliliter dose, one shot of Depo-Provera lasts at least three months. The women who submit themselves to these injections don't have to bother with birth control piils or diaphragms, and don't have to tell their husbands they are using a contraceptive.
They may be seriously endangering their health, though.
In the United States, because of possible safety problems Depo-Provera has never been approved for use as a contraceptive - in spite of intense efforts by Upjohn for almost 25 years to get such approval. Current law prohibits the export of drugs banned or unapproved for use in the U.S. to other countries. Upjohn gets around that restriction by producing the drug in Belgium and Canada - two of about 80 countries where Depo-Provera is registered or approved as a contraceptive.
This issue of Multinational Monitor tells the story of Depo-Provera - including its origin and testing, questions about its safety, its history in the U.S. drug approval process, and the significance of a double standard that allows the drug to be aggresively marketed to women around the world - particularly in the Third World or to minority women in developed countries - for a use not deemed safe for women in tyhe U.S.
Depo-Provera Problems in the U.S.
A mockery of the FDA's Safety Mandate
The Grady Clinic Study
"No Problem:" Buying Depo-Provera in Mexico
Zimbabwe's Change of Heart
Bribery In the Pharmaceutical Industry
Setting the Record Straight
The Politics of Population Control