A Consumer's Guide to the Pill and other Drugs.

Second Edition.pill_book.jpg (36508 bytes)


John Wilks B.Pharm M.P.S.


This book is not published by the Guild, but is listed here as it is a valuable resource for all those wishing to be truly knowledgeable about the pill and related drugs.



The Wilks book is a remarkable piece of work, especially strong on the physiology and pharmacologic endocrinology relating to oral contraception. This tome is encyclopedic in its range. It is must reading for all who are interested in the broad subject of oral contraception: morally, ethically and/or scientifically. I recommend it enthusiastically and without reservation.

Bernard N. Nathanson, M.D., P.C.
Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
New York Medical College,
Visiting Scholar at Vanderbilt University.
July, 1997.


We all have the right to make informed choices about our health and about the chemicals we put inside our bodies. Making such choices is not helped by the manner in which much relevant information is available; either as oversimplified summaries in short booklets, or spread across hundreds of journals in thousands of research papers and scholarly reviews. Mr Wilks provides a critical review of the literature relating to the safety, effectiveness and mode-of-action of drugs developed to manipulate female hormonal physiology. Although not everyone may agree with his conclusions, he raises important questions about the ways in which what is known through research is packaged and presented to prescribers and consumers.

Prof. Tim Usherwood
Professor of General Practice
University of Sydney N.S.W.
Australia. 1996


In the past 30 years, hormonal drugs of various types have become common place in the lives of women, from the time of their first menstruation to well into the menopause. There are drugs to suppress or stimulate fertility, drugs to suppress or replicate the effects of a monthly period and drugs to end or maintain a pregnancy. In fact, there is a drug to match almost all the variables in women's health.

Accompanying this variety is an enormous volume of consumption, with the oral 'contraceptive' alone accounting for over 3.9 million scripts per annum in Australia. Yet it has been my experience for fifteen years as a community pharmacist that the average woman knows very little about these drugs and the long-term effects they will have. This book has been written to help the average woman get the answers she needs to these important questions.

Of particular concern with many of these drugs is the substantial body of research which leads to the conclusion that they are associated with a variety of illnesses in women, most notably breast cancer.

There are two methods which I have used in arranging the order of the chapters in this book.

First, I have sought to follow a woman's reproductive and sexual life as closely as possible. The first nine chapters discuss drugs or devices which are used by women during their reproductive years: the pill, Depo-Provera, Norplant, barrier contraceptives, chemical abortifacients and fertility drugs. Chapter Ten deals with hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Second, I have grouped topics according to similarity of drug use and drug design. It is easier to read material on drugs with a common modus operandi than it is to move from one drug delivery system to another because of some lesser similarities such as side-effects or mortality rate. Accordingly, the pill, Norplant, and Depo-Provera are discussed in separate chapters. Whilst they all contain a synthetic version of progesterone, the drug is administered to the patient via different drug delivery systems which have different developmental histories. The pill receives four chapters because of the vast amount of medical literature related to this drug treatment, the on-going controversy surrounding it and the sheer number of women who daily ingest it.

Barrier methods of contraception such as spermicides and condoms are grouped together for obvious reasons. Post-coital 'contraceptives' such as RU-486 and methotrexate are grouped together because they are all chemical abortifacients and they are used post-intercourse. HRT and fertility drugs are dealt with individually, since they are neither 'contraceptive' nor abortifacient.

The final chapter, Chapter Eleven, presents examples of how material in the preceding ten chapters is criticised without foundation, and minimized or ignored to varying degrees by government health agencies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and the media so as to present a particular drug or device in a way which falsifies or ignores published research. Here lies the source of much community ignorance of these drugs and the reason for this book.

Published in America in October 1997 by:

ALL Inc.,
Virginia 22555
Telephone: 540 659 4171
Fax: 540 659 2586

ISBN 1-890712-25-6


In the UK the Book is available through Amazon