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Manufacturing error leads to big birth control pill recall

It is not an unreasonable expectation that prescription medicine prescribed in California or anywhere in the United States is safe and effective. While this is true the vast majority of the time, on occasion a mislabeled or unsafe product might end up in the hands of consumers, and depending on the mistake, it could lead to dangerous consequences.

This week, Pfizer issued a recall of more than 1 million packets of birth control pills. The recall is unique in that there is not a chemical flaw in the makeup of the pills; the problem lies in their packaging. Each packet of 28 pills contains 21 pills with active ingredients, and the other seven are placebos. Women take the pills in order, and the placebos are color coded so they are not inadvertently mixed in with the active pills.

However, an error in the manufacturing process led to the order of the pills being mixed up, with placebos in the incorrect place. According to doctors, if a woman were to take the placebos for three or more days in a row, any birth control benefits would be lost.

While the pills are color coded to identify them as either an active pill or a placebo, women who are in the habit of taking the pills in the same order might not happen to notice before ingesting them. Doctors say that if any patients had unprotected sex in the previous five days while taking these pills, they may want to consider emergency contraception. Patients who have incurred unexpected medical expenses as a result of this mistake may wish to consult with a products liability attorney to explore their options.

Source: CBS News, "Pfizer birth control mix-up sparks pregnancy fears," Feb. 2, 2012

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