Drug Safety Update

Implanon contraceptive implant: changing to Nexplanon

All healthcare professionals trained in inserting Implanon must make sure they are trained in using Nexplanon before the changeover.

Article date: October 2010

Subdermal contraceptive implants containing etonogestrel

To date, the only available subdermal implant used for contraception in the UK has been Implanon, which contains 68 mg etonogestrel. In October this year, a new product—called Nexplanon—replaces Implanon. Nexplanon also contains 68 mg etonogestrel and is bioequivalent to Implanon. Similar to Implanon, Nexplanon can be used for up to 3 years, and is removed in the same way as Implanon.

What is changing?

Nexplanon differs from Implanon in 2 ways:

  • it has a new preloaded applicator, designed to reduce the risk of insertion errors
  • it is radio-opaque (it contains barium) and can therefore be located on an X-ray or CT scan, if necessary

Actions required: currently trained Implanon inserters

Practitioners who currently insert Implanon should become familiar with the new Nexplanon, and should complete both theoretical and practical training before attempting to use it. An online visual training programme includes animation of the insertion technique. Once completed, model-arm training with a placebo implant is strongly recommended. Further details about the training programme and how to obtain placebo devices can be found on the manufacturer’s website.

What will happen to current stock of Implanon?

Implanon will now be discontinued. However, you can continue to prescribe, dispense, or fit any remaining Implanon stock you may have.

Advice for healthcare professionals:

  • it is essential that trained inserters of Implanon obtain practical and theoretical experience before changing to Nexplanon - this should include model-arm training with a placebo implant

See also letter for healthcare professionals sent September 2010.

Article citation: Drug Safety Update Oct 2010, vol 4 issue 3: A1.

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