50 years ago, the first oral contraceptive was approved in the United States. Only 6 months later, Bayer Healthcare (then Schering) launched its first contraceptive pill in Australia, followed a few months later by the launch in Germany. Building on over 80 years of expertise in hormone research and gynecology, today Bayer Healthcare is the worldwide market leader in Women’s Healthcare.
"We are proud of Bayer Healthcare´s role in offering women a choice of options through the development of a broad range of innovative contraceptives with different regimens, doses and combinations" said Phil Smits, Global Head of Business Unit Women's Healthcare, Bayer AG, Germany. "Today and in the future, we are committed to continuing to develop innovative products to enhance the choice of contraceptive options for women to meet their individual needs - we are responding to changing needs."
The contraceptive pill provides women with a reversible method of contraception that is highly effective and reliable. It allows women using “the Pill” to have the chance to make a conscious decision on whether and when to have children. But the influence of “the Pill” goes beyond family planning. An economic study showed that the biggest contributor to an increase in life satisfaction was access to contraception. For women, contraceptive use positively correlated to increased investment in education, the probability of working and an increased level of income1.
Oral contraceptives are one of the most convenient, safe and reliable options available to women to prevent unplanned pregnancies but, as with any other drug, they can have side effects. Risk factor information is essential in deciding whether a pill is a suitable contraceptive choice for an individual woman. For the vast majority of oral contraceptive users, the benefit-risk profile is favourable when used as indicated.
Main survey results of the pan-European survey
The pan-European female contraception survey2, sponsored by Bayer Healthcare, was conducted in November and December 2009. All in all, 24,320 women in 18 countries were interviewed online or face-to-face.
The recent survey revealed that two-thirds of the women interviewed in Europe have experience with the contraceptive pill, and about 24% are currently using it as their contraceptive method of choice. This makes the pill the most popular form of female contraception. Male condoms are the preferred method of choice for 23% of European couples.
There are huge differences in oral contraceptive use between countries, with only 24% of Greek and 26% of Turkish women, but almost 90% of women of childbearing age in Germany, France and Sweden having tried an oral contraceptive in the past.
Reliable contraception – still an unmet need
Worldwide, 63.2 million women aged 15-49 years used an oral contraceptive in 20083. This total includes some 16 million American women who take “the Pill”, making it one of the most popular contraceptive methods in the USA. And in Western European countries, the acceptance of oral contraceptives ranges between 15% and 40% among women of childbearing age, depending on the country. Yet with all of the developments in contraception, there remains an unmet need. Worldwide, 80 million women become pregnant unintentionally every year. Associated with these unplanned pregnacies, 20 million women go on to have an abortion and 68,000 women die due to unsafe abortion. Of the annual 28 million pregnancies in industrialised countries, almost half (49%) are unplanned4.
1. Pezzini S. The Economic Journal. 2005;115:C208-C227
2. Bayer Healthcare, Market Research, data on file, 2009
3. Calculation based on IMS data
4. Alan Guttmacher Institute. Sharing responsibilities: women, society and abortion worldwide. New York: The Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1999