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A tasteful step toward preventing pregnancies

Looking for a contraceptive that's convenient - and tasty? The first chewable birth-control method, a tiny, spearmint-flavored tablet that also can be swallowed without chewing, has hit pharmacy shelves.

Femcon Fe, which contains the same hormones as standard oral contraceptives, offers a new option for women who don't like swallowing pills and want to take their birth control with them, according to Carl Reichel, president of drugmaker Warner Chilcott of Rockaway.

Warner Chilcott, which makes prescription dermatology and women's health products, officially launched the product Thursday aimed at women who sometimes forget to take their pills.

"This isn't a great leap forward, but I think this is a helpful step," said Dr. Lee Shulman, chairman of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, and an obstetrician-gynecologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and a professor at Northwestern University.

"I think it is a better approach in the group of women who have a very high rate of unintended pregnancy, which is younger women," Shulman said.

Femcon Fe, which the company says is just as effective as standard pills, comes in the typical 28-day cycle, with 21 days of active pills and seven days of inactive or "reminder" pills.

The "Fe" stands for the chemical symbol for iron, which is included in the dummy pills. A month's supply will sell for $44 wholesale.

Femcon Fe is simply a chewable version of the company's Ovcon 35, a birth-control pill that has been on the market for about three decades, Reichel said.

The company said the package is convenient for women who want to carry it in a purse: a credit-card sized dispenser kept inside a velvet pouch, Reichel said

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