Recall: Pfizer's Birth Control Mix-up Could Cause Unintended Pregnancies

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by Brian M. Williams

In The News: Pfizer Recalls A Million Birth Control Pills Due to Packaging Mistake

Correct packaging for Norgestrel Correct packaging for LoOvral

Pfizer has recalled about a million birth control pills due to their packaging mix-up. A mix-up which may have put women at risk for unintended pregnancies.

The error involves placebo pills being placed in the packages in lieu of the daily active pill cycle.

Birth control pills are normally packaged in blister packs containing 21 tablets of active ingredients and seven placebo tablets.

Contraception may be significantly weakened if the sequence of birth control pills is out of order, according to Dr. Adam Jacobs, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive Science at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

"If this is the case, patients may be experiencing irregular bleeding and may be at higher risk for unintended pregnancy. If a patient has this lot number they should stop taking the pills immediately and discuss other birth control options with their physician including emergency contraception, if necessary," Dr. Jacobs explains.

According to Dr. Jill Rabin, head of urogynecology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., women who think they may have been taking the pills recalled by Pfizer should take a pregnancy test if they have any pregnancy symptoms. Women should also notify their doctor and return the pills to their pharmacy.

Dr. Rabin said, "Fortunately, the exact cause of this packaging error was identified and immediately reported."

The lots affected are certain packages of the pill Lo/Ovral-38 as well as many of the generic version norgestrel and ethinyl estradiol tablets. The expiration dates range from July 31, 2013, and March 31, 2014. You can find the lot numbers on Pfizer's website.

Pfizer released the following public statement:

"Consumers exposed to affected packaging should begin using a non-hormonal form of contraception immediately."

This case follows a larger recall in September 2011 when the manufacturer Qualitest Products, Inc. recalled eight brands of its birth control pills, totaling 1.4 million packages.

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