Contraceptive preparations with a high content of estrogen (75 mcg or more) were prohibited in Sweden in 1974 whereupon the number of reported side effects of the pill markedly declined, both relatively and absolutely. The investigation, which compares the side effects reported during the period 1966-70 when the high dose preparation was on sale and 1974-78 after its prohibition. The decrease in the estrogen content took effect at that time. The risks remain, especially an excess morbidity from thromboembolism among women who use pills. While the risk increases with advancing age, the role played by the pill in the genesis of arterial complications is nonetheless slight. The risk of cardiac infarct among pill users who also smoke is not assessed in this material.
Reports on adverse reactions to nitrofurantoin today are common in Sweden and constitute 10 to 12 percent of all incoming reports. We present an analysis of 921 reports of adverse reactions received by the Swedish Adverse Drug Reaction Committee during the period 1966--1976. The two largest groups consist of reports of acute pulmonary reactions (43 percent) and allergic reactions (42 percent). The remaining reports fall into any of four smaller groups, chronic pulmonary reactions, liver damage, blood dyscrasias or neuropathy. Acute pulmonary and acute allergic reactions in all aspects are very similar and carry the characteristics of an acute hypersensitivity reaction. The increasing number of reports--even in relation to sales figures--would be best explained by a continuous sensitization. Chronic pulmonary reactions (interstitial pneumonitis) afflict older patients, often after prolonged treatment with relatively small doses. We suggest that these reactions are elicited by a toxic mechanism. Seventy-one percent of all reactions were severe enough to cause the patient's hospitalization; only 1 percent was fatal. The risk of an adverse reaction varies with sex and age, increases with age and is higher in women than in men. The time has come for a re-evaluation of nitrofurantoin and its role in the treatment of urinary tract infections.
Patient characteristics and pre-hospital drug consumption have been studied in 506 consecutive patients acutely admitted to a department of medicine. Women were older (median 69 years) than men (median 63 years) and weighed less (mean 60 vs. 74 kg). Serum creatinine values were above the normal limits in 110 patients (22%). Forty-eight per cent of men and 26% of women were smokers. Heavy alcohol intake was found in 12% of men and 4% of women. It is concluded that a typical patient group shows much greater variations in age, weight, renal function, smoking and drinking habits--factors all known to influence the results of drug treatment--than is generally taken into account when routine drugs are prescribed.