A Shot in the Arm

The FDA approves a controversial birth control injection

THE BEST THING ABOUT DEPO-PROVERA, THE BIRTH control drug now finally approved for use in the U.S., is that it lasts so long. One shot in the arm or buttock provides 99% effective protection for three full months. That's the main reason it is used by nearly 9 million women in 90 countries, including Britain, France, Sweden and Germany.

But in the U.S. the drug has been mired in controversy since the mid-1970s, when its use as a contraceptive was blocked because of a link to cancer in animals (a link that seemed weak or absent in subsequent human studies). Some...

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