Monthly Injection Can Prevent Pregnancy

Preventing pregnancy is now as easy as getting a once-a-month shot in the arm.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new product called Lunelle, made by Pharmacia Corp. of Peapack, N.J., which the firm says is 99 percent effective when used as directed.

The shots must be administered by a healthcare provider and women cannot go longer than 33 days between shots, or they will need a pregnancy test before the next injection.

Lunelle is an alternative to another injectable contraceptive called Depo-Provera that lasts three months. Like many birth control pills, it works through a combination of the hormones progestin and estrogen.

Lunelle should be on the market by the end of the year, and cost $30 to $37 a shot, Pharmacia spokeswoman Kristin Elliott said.

Prevents Pregnancies Effectively Lunelle was approved based on data from a clinical study of 1,103 women at 42 sites in the United States. The study compared patients taking Lunelle to those on Ortho-Novum 7/7/7, a common birth control pill.

The 783 women taking Lunelle had no unintended pregnancies, though there were two among the 321 women using the oral contraceptive after 15 cycles of use.

Women taking the contraceptive injection still have monthly menstrual cycles. There also is a quick return to ovulation, usually within two to four months, Pharmacia said. More than 50 percent of users became pregnant within six months of quitting Lunelle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.