Clinical data
AHFS/ Micromedex Detailed Consumer Information
MedlinePlus a601050
  • US: X (Contraindicated)
Routes of
ATC code G03AC09 (WHO)
Legal status
Legal status
Pharmacokinetic data
Protein binding 98.3%
CAS Number 54024-22-5 YesY
PubChem (CID) 40973
DrugBank DB00304 YesY
ChemSpider 37400 YesY
UNII 81K9V7M3A3 YesY
KEGG D02367 YesY
Chemical and physical data
Formula C22H30O
Molar mass 310.473 g/mol
3D model (Jmol) Interactive image

Desogestrel (INN, USAN, BAN) is a progestin used in hormonal contraceptives. Most combined oral contraceptive pills (COCPs, or simply OCs) on the market today contain both an estrogen (ethinyl estradiol is common) plus a progestin (a synthetic progesterone-like agent) such as desogestrel. Desogestrel-containing birth control pills are sometimes referred to as "third generation" oral contraceptives. In contrast, birth control pills that are considered "second generation" (Tri-Levlen, for example) contain an estrogen and a progestin, but the progestin is different, such as levonorgestrel.

Desogestrel behaves as a prodrug to etonogestrel (3-ketodesogestrel).[1] It has low androgenic activity.[1]


Third-generation oral contraceptives are suitable for use in patients with diabetes or lipid disorders because they have minimal impact on blood glucose levels and the lipid profile. Their synthetic estrogen dosage is lower than second-generation oral contraceptives, reducing the likelihood of weight gain, breast tenderness and migraine.


In February 2007, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen released a petition requesting that the FDA ban oral contraceptives containing desogestrel, citing studies going as far back as 1995 that suggest the risk of dangerous blood clots is doubled for women on such pills in comparison to other oral contraceptives.[2] In 2009, Public Citizen released a list of recommendations that included numerous alternative, second-generation birth control pills that women could take in place of oral contraceptives containing desogestrel. Most of those second-generation medications have been on the market longer and have been shown to be as effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy, but with a lower risk of blood clots.[3]

Drugs cited specifically in the petition include Apri-28, Cyclessa, Desogen, Kariva, Mircette, Ortho-Cept, Reclipsen, Velivet and some generic pills.[2]


Desogestrel was introduced in 1981.[4]

See also


  1. 1 2 Thomas L. Lemke; David A. Williams (2008). Foye's Principles of Medicinal Chemistry. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 1316–. ISBN 978-0-7817-6879-5.
  2. 1 2 Public Citizen’s Health Research Group: Petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to Ban Third Generation Oral Contraceptives Containing Desogestrel due to Increased Risk of Venous Thrombosis HRG Publication #1799, 2007
  3. Public Citizen Think Twice About Third-Generation Oral Contraceptives and YASMIN Worst Pills, Best Pills, December, 2009
  4. Benno Clemens Runnebaum; Thomas Rabe; Ludwig Kiesel (6 December 2012). Female Contraception: Update and Trends. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 13–. ISBN 978-3-642-73790-9.
  5. Van Den Broek, A. J.; Van Bokhoven, C.; Hobbelen, P. M. J.; Leemhuis, J. (2010). "11-Alkylidene steroids in the 19-nor series". Recueil des Travaux Chimiques des Pays-Bas. 94 (2): 35. doi:10.1002/recl.19750940203.

External links

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