RSS
America's 'massive' birth control recall: The risk of unintended pregnancies
Qualitest Pharmaceuticals warns women that 1.4 million packs of birth control pills may be ineffective
 
1.4 million packs of birth control pills were subject to packaging errors that may render them ineffective at preventing pregnancies.
1.4 million packs of birth control pills were subject to packaging errors that may render them ineffective at preventing pregnancies.
Jamie Grill/Corbis

Talk about a big mistake. Qualitest, an Alabama pharmaceutical company, has issued a "massive" recall of 1.4 million packs of birth control pills. The pills were packaged incorrectly, rendering them ineffective as birth control, which may lead to unintended pregnancies. Here's what you should know:

Which pills are affected by the recall?
Late last week, Qualitest Pharmaceuticals issued a statement noting that the following birth control pills had been affected: Cyclafem 7/7/7, Cyclafem 1/35, Emoquette, Gildess FE 1.5/30, Gildess FE 1/20, Orsythia, Previfem, and Tri-Previfem. For a list of the affected lot numbers, go here. The recall affects 1.4 million packages of pills, but it's not yet known how many of the faulty pill packs were shipped.

Why were the pills recalled?
The company noted a "packaging error" that caused the pill packs to be incorrectly rotated. In short, the pills are packaged in the wrong order, which means "the daily regimen for these oral contraceptives may be incorrect and could leave women without adequate contraception, and at risk for unintended pregnancy," Qualitest's statement notes. Qualitest outsources its manufacturing to a third party contractor, and it's looking into how exactly this happened. Other than the possibility of an unintended pregnancy, Qualitest says the issues don't "pose any immediate health risks."

What should women do?
The FDA says women whose pills were affected by the recall should use a "barrier method" of birth control — like a condom or diaphragm — until they can get back on track with a new supply of pills.

How angry are people over this?
Quite angry. Qualitest says it will "rectify" this mistake, but "I'm not sure how the drug company is going to be able to "rectify" countless unintended pregnancies," says Lane Moore at Jezebel. "This just seems like it could get messy," says Ben Yakas at Gothamist.

Sources: Alabama Live, CNN Gothamist, Jezebel, NPR, Qualitest (2),

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week