Oral Contraceptives - 50 million Users

This report provides data on worldwide distribution of oral contraceptives (OCs) over the last decade.  Marketing figures and information on government and international distribution programs were provided by AID, the Swedish International Development Authority, UNICEF, and IPPF.  It is noted that in at least 5 developed countries (Canada, Australia, West Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand) 25% or more of all women aged 15-44 are regularly purchasing OCs from pharmacies.  If women receiving supplies from family planning programs are included, the U.S. and the United Kingdom are now close to the 20% level.  The highest usage rate is in the Netherlands where nearly 30% of the fecund women bought OCs regularly in 1972 and 37% in the first half of 1973.  The hazards of OCs publicized in 1969 and 1970 caused noticeably reduced purchases.  In Australia 15-22% of the women taking OCs discontinued their use following adverse reports.  By 1971 when further evaluations put earlier warnings into a more reassuring perspective and lower dosage formulations became available, sales in developed countries substantially exceeded previous levels.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,Center for Communication Programs,Population Information Program