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Doctors say morning-after pill loses effectiveness with overweight women

Updated: Tuesday, November 26 2013, 09:30 PM MST

By Crystal Price
EL PASO, Texas - A French drug manufacturer is warning the public that the morning-after pill may not work so well for overweight women.

HRA Pharam scientists revealed that the emergency contraceptive, Norlevo, shows an absence of effectiveness in women who weigh 176 pounds.

The findings also reveal that the morning-after pill could lose its effectiveness in women who weigh as low as 165 pounds.

According to the CDC, the average woman weighs 166 pounds.

Health experts said Norlevo is identical to Plan B One-Step.

Both are emergency contraceptives that include levonorgestrel.

Dr. Antonio De La Rosa of East Desert OB/GYN said the new findings do not surprise him.

"There have been some studies that suggest the same, so it's not surprising," De La Rosa said.

The gynecologist of 10 years said the pill takes longer to reach normal concentration levels in the blood of women who are obese.

"The medicine is getting diluted within your body with the more mass you have," De La Rosa said.

Metabolism levels in overweight women can also be to blame.

"Heavier people tend to have a higher metabolism," De La Rosa said. "They could metabolize these medications a lot faster so the time it stays in your body is shortened."

But De La Rosa said Plan B is still an option for all women.

"I think it's an option still," De La Rosa said. "It's not saying it doesn't work at all. You just have to be aware that it is less effective."

Women in El Paso were quite surprised to hear about the new findings on the pill.

"It does surprise me, assuming that people thought that the pill would be a pill for all weights," said Claudia Butler, an East El Paso resident.

"I think it should be effective for all women, whether they need a stronger dosage or they just need to enhance the product," said Melissa Nieto, an East El Paso resident.

Doctors tell KFOX 14 the Plan B pill is still an option for overweight women.

The success rate for the Plan B pill is 88 percent with the first 72 hours.

Doctors urge women to rely on more than an emergency contraceptive to prevent pregnancy.

Check with your primary physician for the method that works best for you.

Doctors say morning-after pill loses effectiveness with overweight women

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