Diane-35, a drug permitted in Canada to treat severe acne, is also being widely prescribed as a birth control pill.

Slick ads with sexual innuendo have been shown on television and in movie theatres, but the ads leave the medication’s exact purpose up to the imagination. Following the airing of ads, the makers of the drug saw Canadian sales shoot up 45 per cent in one year alone, and more than 800,000 prescriptions for it were written last year.

CBC’s Disclosure program investigated the matter and found that the drug, which was mandated by Health Canada not to be prescribed primarily as birth control, was nevertheless being prescribed as such by doctors and gynecologists. Berlex Canada, the drug’s Canadian distributors, is currently under investigation by Health Canada.

Diane-35’s use is restricted in Europe, where it was first allowed as a double-action birth control pill and acne medication. An inquest in England confirmed that the drug helped cause a blood clot that killed a young woman named Melanie Pyke. Currently, it is permitted in Europe as in Canada only to treat severe acne.

It must be noted that women who are prescribed Diane-35 to treat acne are at risk of inadvertently aborting newly conceived lives, as the drug is an abortifacient.

CBC reports that a coroner has confirmed that the death of young Ottawa woman, Catherina Agelidis, could be linked to Diane-35.