Medicine: A Pill That Gets Under the Skin

Norplant could spur birth control -- and stir controversy

For a country in which medical breakthroughs occur with dizzying regularity, the U.S. has been disturbingly backward in the field of contraception research. Not a single fundamentally new birth-control method has been introduced since the Pill and the IUD, or intrauterine device, came out in the early 1960s. Meanwhile, in several European countries, a series of contraceptive innovations has broadened the range of methods far beyond what is available in the U.S. -- and sharply reduced the number of unwanted pregnancies.

Thus many American health experts were delighted last week when the Food and Drug Administration finally approved Norplant, a long-lasting...

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