The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on 25 September 2010 approved a novel oral contraceptive that is formulated to provide both contraception and reduce the risk for neural tube defects in their offspring if and when they give birth. The new contraceptive, Beyaz (Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals), contains levomefolate calcium, a metabolite of folic acid. Prepregnancy folate supplementation has been associated with a decreased risk of fetal neural tube defects. Thus arises the recommendation that women of childbearing age supplement their diet with folate. This is a logical step since women may become pregnant during oral contraceptive use or shortly after discontinuation. The approval is based on the already-approved oral contraceptive drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol (Yaz, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals), which contains the same doses of estrogen and progestin.
Apart from the primary indication of contraception, Beyaz is also approved for the treatment of symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), acne vulgaris and the prevention of fetal neural tube defects in women who choose an oral contraceptive as their method of contraception.
According to the FDA (www.fda.gov), the primary efficacy study for Beyaz was a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, controlled U.S. trial in 379 healthy women aged 18 to 40 who were treated with Beyaz or YAZ alone for up to 24 weeks. Beyaz was found to increase folate levels in women. In a German study of Beyaz, folate levels remained elevated for several weeks following discontinuation of Beyaz. Safety and efficacy data for contraception, PMDD, and acne indications were obtained from previous YAZ clinical trials.
The clinical trials of Beyaz did not yield any findings that would suggest it differs from Yaz in terms of its overall safety profile. It is expected that the most common adverse events for Beyaz will be the same as those for Yaz. Adverse effects most frequently reported by users of combined oral contraceptives are irregular uterine bleeding, nausea, breast tenderness, and headaches.