Pfizer Recalls One Million Birth Control Pills


Pfizer announced Tuesday that it has voluntarily recalled 14 lots of Lo/Ovral®-28 Tablets and 14 lots of Norgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol Tablets in the United States.

An investigation by Pfizer found that some blister packs of the contraceptives may not contain enough of the active ingredient to prevent pregnancy or the pills may be out of sequence.

As you may know, oral contraception often comes in packs of 28 pills: 21 “active” and seven sugar pills. If taken out of sequence or without the proper distribution of hormones, they are ineffective.

“These packaging defects do not pose any immediate health risks,” Pfizer stated in a press release on the FDA website on Tuesday. “However, consumers exposed to affected packaging should begin using a non-hormonal form of contraception immediately.”

The pills, Pfizer said, have been distributed to warehouses, clinics and retail pharmacies nationwide, so they could have an effect on women across the country.

Although these women may not be in danger of other health risks, Pfizer’s bottom line might be. Greg Gianforcaro, a litigation attorney in New Jersey, told the risk of unwanted pregnancies alone could be enough to open the company up to serious legal ramifications.

If enough women got pregnant and could prove it was because of the inefficacy of the drug, they could file a class action suit that could really hurt Pfizer, similar to litigation taken after a string of botched vasectomies. Not to mention the damage this could do to the drug giant’s reputation.

As a college student, many of my peers use oral contraceptives, some of them even use these exact pills. This recall has planted seeds of doubt into the minds of women who rely on the marketed promise that this contraception is nearly foolproof, but how deep does brand loyalty lie?

“I will definitely be switching pills,” Lindsay, a sophomore at Purdue University, said. “If a mechanical problem can be made once, it can be made again and I just can’t take that chance. There are so many different options, I will find one that I can trust.”

But others disagreed.

“I switched pills three times before I found one that didn’t cause me to be manic or gain weight,” one senior, TN, said. “My packs aren’t in the listed lots and I always use condoms so I’m going to stick with the pill that I take. This was a fluke that could have happened in any manufacturing plant.”

I’m not sure if that fact should make us more or less confident in our chosen prevention method.

The affected packets have expiration dates ranging between July 31, 2013, and March 31, 2014. Lot numbers are available here.


Related Stories:

We Don’t Need A “Debate” About Birth Control

Catholic Colleges Up In Arms Over Contraception Ruling

The New “Anti-Choice” Movement



Annmari Lundin
Annmari L6 years ago

John M.: Not everyone uses contraception to prevent pregnancies. There are other uses for them, like painful periods, etc. Even so, abstinance doesn't work unless you apply it to all men!

KS Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Judith Harris
Judith Harris6 years ago

I am of the same mind as Thomas. The minute I heard the announcement, I thought of industrial espionage. This was a purposeful inside job and I hope Pfizer is doing a thorough investigation of its employees. The zealots will stop at nothing and don't care who gets hurt as long as they promote their twisted cause.

Linda T.
Linda T6 years ago

Very, very, scarey. Cheers to Meta for her comment.

John Mansky
John Mansky6 years ago

If one would just abstain,there would be no need for drugs...

Gabby W.
Catherine V6 years ago

How about the bigger question/s -where is the manufacturing plant that distributed these birth control pills & why does the Pfizer corporation not do a daily quality control check??
You would think quality control would be done a daily basis with every single batch but this is what happens when corporations are allowed to regulate themselves..

Steve R.
Steve R6 years ago


Another drug company screw up!

Now we have another side effect that can be added to an already extensive list.

"Taking these pills could result in a trip to Planned Parenthood"!

Cathryn C.
Cathryn C6 years ago

There are indeed health related issues that can arise from the pills being inaccurately manufactuered and I am not just talking about pregnancy. Birth Control pills are prescribed for more than just birth control, they are also used to regulate menses, endometriosus and hormone imbalances caused by hysterectomies and menopause. Pfizer and ANY drug company should catch such errors quickly, as they do have quality controls that are supposed to sample and test every bath at the begining middle and end of the run. this should have been caught before they ever left the warehouse.

Anton K.
Past Member 6 years ago

If there's any surprises, I hope you ladies sue their incompetent asses off.
On the other side of the coin. Gentlemen, keep it in a sock or get clipped. There is no good reason for a woman to have to take most of the health risks.

Thomas B.
Thoms B6 years ago

Is there a pro-life mole inside Pfiser quality control not doing their job? If there were pro-life condom inspectors not doing their job, how would anyone know? Don't think for a minute those zealots haven't thought of it.