NEW DELHI: The government may soon give a go ahead with a new form of contraception, which can be injected into the body. The proposal has been approved in principle by the technical body for drug screening, and is waiting for the approval of the health ministry.

“We have given in-principle approval. But the cost for inclusion in the national programme has to be worked out," a health ministry official said.

Deoxy Medroxy Progesterone Acetate (DMPA) is an injectable contraceptive which can be injected with a hypodermic needle in the arm or buttock. The Drug Technical Advisory Body, the main authority for passing new drugs as safe for use, has already recommended the DMPA as a safe mode of contraception in a meeting with Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).

The use of the DMPA prevents pregnancy for three months. It works by preventing the egg from releasing in the female body. The new forms of contraception have been mulled over by the health ministry, including the one being discussed, but the decision to allow it from being one of the standard methods of contraception was vetoed by women activists earlier. Its prolonged use may cause anorrhaea, weakening of bones, irregularity in menstrual cycle, and breast and cervical cancer, it was argued by them then.

According to a study published in Lancet journal, the use of DMPA may elevate the risk of HIV in the users but only by a very slim margin. The study was titled, Use of hormonal contraceptives and HIV acquisition in women: a systematic review of the epidemiological evidence, and done by Chelsea polis and Kathryn Curtis.

The abstract read, “Studies that assessed the use of depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) or non-specified injectable contraceptives had heterogeneous methods and mixed results, with some investigators noting a 1·5—2·2 times increased risk of HIV acquisition, and others reporting no association. Thus, some, but not all, observational data raise concern about a potential association between use of DMPA and risk of HIV acquisition. More definitive evidence for the existence and size of any potential effect could inform appropriate counselling and policy responses in countries with varied profiles of HIV risk, maternal mortality, and access to contraceptive services.”

If incorporated, the contraceptive method would become sixth such method with five others being male sterilisation, female sterilisation, Intra-Uterine Device (IUD), condoms, and pills.