Update Norplant Maker Cannot Assure Effectiveness of Some Batches

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Wednesday September 13 8:52 AM ET Norplant Maker Cannot Assure Effectiveness of Some Batches

MADISON, N.J. (Reuters) - The maker of the Norplant contraceptive on Wednesday said it could not assure the effectiveness of certain batches of the product distributed over the past 11 months and urged that users of those batches use back-up contraception.

Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, a unit of American Home Products Corp. (NYSE:AHP - news), said laboratory tests had shown that certain batches of Norplant may fail to release enough of the hormone levonorgestrel to deliver effective, continuing contraception. Norplant is an implanted contraceptive device that is supposed to last five years.

The company said it would cover the cost of back-up birth control and would reimburse women who wish to have the affected Norplant devices removed.

The affected batches include about 22,000 contraceptive kits with expiration dates during 2004.

In August Wyeth-Ayerst advised doctors to stop implanting Norplant devices distributed since last October while the company conducted the lab tests to see how well the batches maintained their effectiveness.

Wyeth-Ayerst said it continues to conduct additional testing and analyses of the suspect lots.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), September 13, 2000

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