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GUARDIAN (MANCHESTER, ENGLAND). 1977 Jul 6; 1,6.The injectable contraceptive Depo Provera, banned in the U.S. and other Western countries because of associated cancer risks, is currently being distributed by Western governments in the Third World countries. There are now more than 500,000 women in Asia and Africa who are currently using the contraceptive containing MPA (medroxyprogesterone acetate), which in U.S. Food and Drug Administration trials produced cancers in beagle bitches. The U.S. and Swedish governments, through WHO, IPPF (International Planned Parenthood Federation) and other bodies, are financing the distribution of the contraceptive in Asia. 2 issues are raised by this distribution activity: 1) the ethical issue of using drugs banned in the West on illiterate women in the Third World; and 2) the use of contraceptives on a huge scale, despite FDA warnings and bans in Western countries. Asian doctors have long pointed out that Western companies whose products have been banned in their own countries have been dumping substandard equipment and medicines into the Asian market. Depo Provera, injected every 3 months, is widely used in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand. The London-based IPPF is the world's largest distributor of the contraceptive. The Family Planning Association in Britain has applied for the lifting of restrictions in Britain, but the Committee on Safety of Medicines has approved its short-term use only for women whose husbands have had a vasectomy and for women being immunized against German measles. Dr. Malcolm Potts, medical advisor to IPPF, and other research clinics in Britain and in the U.S. questioned the association between beagle trials and women taking far lower doses. Thai women who had been treated with Depo over many years have not shown any increase in cancerous symptoms. However, the real issue behind the controversy is the distribution of Western medicines and drugs in Third World countries. As Dr. Zafrullah Choudhury, founder of the "barefoot doctor" scheme in Bangladesh said, "Western doctors feel they can do experiments on Asian women because they are poor and illiterate. They do not regard them as people. They...see family planning in terms of numbers....in terms of population control rather than people."