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Contraception (Depo Provera)

Volume 975: debated on Monday 3 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received about the use of the Depo Provera contraceptive injection amongst Welsh women; and whether this form of contraception is being used in Wales.

I have not received any representations about the use of Depo Provera. This drug is in use in Wales as a contraceptive.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the anxiety among women's organisations in Wales over the side effects, including acute depression, that are reported to be experienced by those for whom the drug has been prescribed? Will he issue instructions that the drug should not be used on women in Wales unless the fullest explanation has been given, and that it should certainly not be used on unmarried women?

I am not aware of the deep concern to which the hon. Gentleman has referred. Depo Provera is currently licensed for use only as a short-term contraceptive in special circumstances; for example, where a husband has undergone a vasectomy or where a woman has been injected against rubella and the virus is still active. I am advised that the drug is well tolerated and that no significant untoward effects have been reported.

Would it not be better for the time being, as we do not know the long-term effects of the injection, if Depo Provera were used only under the strict supervision of obstetric and gynaecological departments of our district hospitals?

We have always taken the view, as the hon. Gentleman will know, that in the National Health Service doctors should be free to exercise their clinical judgment. The drug may therefore be prescribed where individual circumstances so indicate. I should not like to limit clinical judgment in any way.