On Feb. 1, 2012, Pfizer, Inc., the nation’s largest drug manufacturer issued a recall of one million packets of birth control pills. Due to a manufacturing mix-up, some of the 21 “active” birth control pills might have been accidentally replaced with the seven “inactive” pills, raising a woman’s chance for an unplanned pregnancy.
A woman could have inadvertently skipped doses of the pill without knowing it and if she has sexual intercourse while she is ovulating, she has a good chance of getting pregnant.
Pfizer believes only about 30 packets of birth control pills were affected by this mistake, but they are recalling 1 million packets to be sure. Normally the pills are color-coded so a woman can automatically tell the difference between the placebo and the active pills.
The recalled packets were of Lo/Ovral 28 and its generic equivalent and were made and shipped in 2011. Lo/Ovral 28 is not one of the more common forms of birth control prescribed today. In fact, it is ranked 64 on the list of U.S. birth control sales last year. Doctors and pharmacists say this is an older version of the pill and is not widely used.
The affected packets are manufactured by Pfizer but sold in the U.S. by Akrimax Rx Products. They are pink and bear the name of the drug or the generic name, along with Akrimax. They have expiration dates ranging from July 31, 2013, to March 31, 2014.
The company learned about the problem when a customer called them in December 2011 to report that there was a pink placebo pill in the middle of the white active pills.
Pfizer then found the manufacturing problem, fixed it, and issued a nationwide recall asking pharmacies to pull the affected lots from their shelves.
The recall was only announced to the media and the public after a request from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Normally close to 100 percent effective when taken according to directions, birth control pills are the most widely used form of birth control in the country. According to WebMD, an estimated 12 million women in the United States take one form of the birth control pill or another, and worldwide that number jumps to 100 million.