Medics caution over banned Pill
Family health experts have raised the red flag over the presence of a contraceptive sold in the local market as a Chinese herbal medicine despite being declared illegal by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) 13 years ago.
Subsequently, they have raised alarm over the continued sale of the once-a-month pill popularly known as Sofia, mostly in the herbal clinics in urban areas across the country.
Speaking ahead of the World Contraception Day set for September 26, National Family Planning Programme Manager, Dr Albert Ndwiga, cautioned there is no family planning method that requires women to swallow a pill once a month.
“The PPB is very concerned about this particular pill, and has since raised alarm severally about it,” he said yesterday in Nairobi during an engagement with health reporters to sensitise on various aspects on family planning and reproductive health.
“Those pills are very dangerous and present very severe side effects even to unborn children and are illegal,” Dr Ndwiga said, explaining that an analysis that was done through the National Quality Control Laboratory (NQCL) showed that the tablet is not herbal at all and contains abnormally high levels of the hormones levonorgestrel and quinestrol. He warned that the pills are also toxic.
“It has been found out that children born experience a lot of effects from what the mother took; you see children developing precocious puberty where they present with secondary sexual characteristics at a very early age,” he stated.
In precocious puberty, a child’s body begins changing into that of an adult too soon, with puberty in girls beginning before they are eight years old, and before nine years in boys. Experts indicate that children with this condition develop signs of sexual maturity too soon. This includes breast growth, pubic hair, and voice changes.
They may also grow quickly at first and be tall, compared with their peers. But, because their bones mature more quickly than normal, they often stop growing earlier than usual. Ndwiga said this is sad because people are still taking this particular pill even as it was banned; noting it is dangerous and they need to stop, and take only the approved contraceptives by the PPB.
“Babies born to these women or babies breastfeeding while their mothers are on the pills are exposed to excess oestrogen and carry a risk of developing secondary sexual features, something that will interfere with their family planning in the future,” he added.
Unfortunately, he noted that cases of children born with enlarged breasts and abnormally developed uterus below three years have been recorded.
However, the PPB says this particular pill was withdrawn from the market long time ago, and a number of post market surveillance shows that it’s not in the market.
“We are calling on the Ministry of Health to inform the Board if they have evidence it’s in the market,” a senior official at the PPB said last evening, noting that if at all the Chinese ‘contraceptive’ is still available for use in the market then it is being sold covertly.
Dr Ndwiga, who made these shocking revelations is a gynaecologist, meaning he could be seeing women presenting with the adverse side effects from the drug.