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New Birth Control Pill Smoothes Away PMS

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Kathleen Fitzgerald, MD, a clinical assistant professor at Brown University in Providence, R.I., tells WebMD that "we are always searching for the perfect birth control pill." The search continues, she says, because women have different needs and because ob-gyns are using birth control pills for "more than birth control. We use them to control menstrual bleeding, for migraines, for acne and to treat PMS. Using a birth control pill for PMS is not a novel concept."

The pill itself is not yet approved as a birth control pill, says Brown. Yasmin's manufacturer, Berlex Laboratories, is awaiting final approval and "is anticipating that the FDA will approve Yasmin sometime this summer." Brown says Berlex is then expected to ask the FDA to approve the pill for treatment of PMS.

Meanwhile, Brown says that 21 centers are now participating in a placebo-controlled trial of Yasmin to treat premenstrual dysphorric disorder, also called PMDD. "We've decided to bypass PMS and go all the way to PMDD, and we are very hopeful that this pill will demonstrate a benefit for this disorder," she says.

Brown says that one reason she is interested in treating PMDD with a birth control pill is her belief that women are "more willing to take a birth control pill than they are to take antidepressant. There is still a stigma surrounding the use of antidepressants."

Fitzgerald agrees with this assessment. In her practice in Providence, she uses several different types of birth control pills to treat PMS. "But these researchers are studying PMDD because it is a specific, defined clinical disorder, so you can more easily quantify results. If they get approval of this pill for PMDD, obstetricians will be using it for PMS in our offices," she says.

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