Choosing Generic Vs Branded Levonorgestrel


Generic medicines contain the same active ingredient and are equally effective and medically equivalent as the branded products but are available at a lower price. Generic manufacturers have to demonstrate that they are medically identical to the branded product - i.e. they offer the same quality, strength, stability and effectiveness.

Generic medicines are required meet the same standards of safety, quality and efficacy as the branded medication. To receive market approval from the European Medicines Agency and MHRA, a generic medicine must be 'bioequivalent' to the originator product.


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What is Emergency Contraception?

Emergency contraception is a way of preventing pregnancy after sexual intercourse where contraception wasn’t used or there is a chance what was used may have failed.

What are examples of situations where emergency contraception should be considered?

Where no contraception was used.

There is a concern that a condom failed, for example it fell off or leaked.

A regular contraceptive pill has been missed.

Regular oral contraception is being taken, but during the month diarrhoea or vomiting has occurred, reducing its effectiveness.

There was failure to withdraw prior to ejaculation (withdrawal is an extremely unreliable and cannot be considered a form of contraception).

What types of emergency contraception are there?

The most effective type of emergency contraception is the copper intrauterine device (IUD) and this should be considered as the first choice. It should be inserted into the womb as soon as possible after unprotected sex and can be used if the oral contraceptive pill has already been taken. Once inserted, it will work as a contraceptive in the future as well. It can stay in place for several years and can be removed any time someone wishes to start a pregnancy.

If you want to consider a copper IUD, you should contact your local sexual health services, family planning clinic or doctor.

There are also two types of oral emergency contraception available, which can be used as an alternative to or as well as the copper IUD.


Levonorgestrel (Levonelle) is a single tablet that can be used up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. Studies have shown the pregnancy rate to be less than 1.6% after taking it. It cannot be used if a person is currently pregnant, had a birth in the previous 21 days or had a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or uterine evacuation for a molar pregnancy in the previous 5 days.

Ulipristal (Ella-One) is a single tablet that  can be used up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. Studies have shown the pregnancy rate to be less than 1.3% after taking it.

Is there anybody who cannot use oral emergency contraception?

Oral emergency contraception should not be taken by anybody with a hypersensitivity to progestogens.

It is not suitable for anyone with severe liver disease, acute porphyria or a severe malabsorptive state where the medication may not absorb properly.

There are a few medicines that may interact with oral emergency contraception and make it less effective, including some antiepileptic drugs, antibiotics and retroviral medications. We will go through the specific medications with our consultation.

They cannot be taken by someone with severe asthma, using oral steroids.

Ulipristal cannot be used by anyone breastfeeding.

How do I take Oral Emergency Contraception?

Levonelle (levonorgestrel) is a single tablet that should be taken as a single dose within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse.

Ulipristal (ella-one) is a single tablet that should be taken as a single dose within 120 hours of unprotected intercourse.

Side effects

Side effects with oral emergency contraception are uncommon.

They can cause breast tenderness, fatigue, dizziness, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.

If vomiting occurs within 3 hours of taking oral emergency contraception, a repeat dose should be taken.

Always read the label of any medication that you take and only take according to the instructions provided. Do not exceed the stated dose.

Non-consensual sex / Rape

We recognise that you may be seeking emergency contraception because something sexual happened to you without your consent.

Consent happens when all people involved in a sexual activity agree to take part by choice, where they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

We all have the right to not agree to any type of sexual activity. We have the right to change our minds at any time, or consent to doing one sexual thing with someone but not another.

If you did not consent to sex, we urge you to call the police or visit your local accident and emergency service, where help will be available to you.

For more information visit:

Information Leaflet

Patient Information Leaflet

Always read the patient information leaflet before commencing treatment.

Authored 02 April 2020 by Dr Clare Morrison, Reviewed 02 April 2020 by Liyya Patel, Siobhan Titre Last updated 02 April 2020

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Dr Clare Morrison

General Practitioner (Prescriber)
GMC: 3441561

Avnish Patel

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Rukhsana Deshmukh

Superintendent Pharmacist
GPhC: 2070765