BACKGROUND: Cyproterone acetate combined with ethinyl estradiol (CPA/EE) provides a treatment option for women with acne, hirsutism or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). CPA/EE may be prescribed as an oral contraceptive (OC), but is not licensed as such in the UK. The use of CPA/EE steadily increased after its introduction to the UK market in 1987, but there was a marked increase in its share of the OC market after 1995.
METHODS: Using the General Practice Research Database, utilization patterns of CPA/EE and conventional oral contraceptives were compared in women aged 15-39 years, with or without acne or PCOS.
RESULTS: Between 1994 and 1998, CPA/EE accounted for an increasing proportion of all OC use. The proportion of CPA/EE prescribed to women with acne declined between 1994 and 1998, whereas that prescribed to women with PCOS remained constant. The age-specific use of CPA/EE by women with acne or PCOS almost doubled. After 1995, there was a marked increase in the use of products containing levonorgestrel by women with acne or PCOS.
CONCLUSIONS: A large proportion of CPA/EE is prescribed to women with acne and/or PCOS, although this proportion decreased between 1992 and 1998. This has important implications in CPA/EE risk assessment studies.