Pfizer's Defective Birth Control Pills Could Mean Unintended Pregnancies

Pfizer's Defective Birth Control Pills Could Mean Unintended Pregnancies

Don't panic, ladies. OK, maybe a little.

Pfizer announced Tuesday that it is recalling one million packets of generic birth control pills from the market, after it found some of them might not prevent pregnancy. The defective packets aren't a risk to your health, but they could leave you with a major "oops," even if you're taking them exactly as directed.

What's the Deal?

The worrying mishap is the result of inspection failures. Normally, a packet of birth control pills has three weeks of hormonal doses, and one week of placebos, or sugar pills. The affected packets instead could have more hormonal pills than necessary or—this is the problem—not enough. The sequence of the pills could even be wrong. The result is that you might miss two or more doses, putting you at risk for getting pregnant. Pfizer has fixed the problem in the manufacturing facility, but not before distributing the defective birth control across the country.

Are You Affected?

Wait, wait, before you go running for a stick to pee on, know that the birth control brand being recalled is not one of the more popular brands, so fewer women will be affected. But you should still check to be sure, of course. We'll walk you through this. Pull out your birth control packet and check for:

1. The kind: Lo/Ovral-28 and and generic Norgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol pills. This should be printed on the blister pack and on your prescription sticker.

2. The expiration date: Recalled pills have an expiration date between July 31, 2013 and March 31, 2014. Find this stamped on the foil of the blister pack.

3. The lot number: You should find this stamped right next to the expiration date. Compare it with the lot numbers on Pfizer's website.

What to Do if You Have a Recalled Pack

If you find that the kind of birth control, lot number and expiration date match yours, you should go to your pharmacy and do three things. 1) Return the birth control for a refund, 2) Get a new packet to replace it, and 3) Pick up a box of condoms or other non-hormonal contraception to use for the next month.

Oh, and make sure you share this with all of your girlfriends. They'll be grateful you did!

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Photo credit: blmurch on Flickr


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