The Pfizer birth control pill recall that made headlines yesterday, here and elsewhere, was stunning in its scope. About 1 million pill packs were recalled, with the pharmaceutical company stating “the daily regimen for these oral contraceptives may be incorrect and could leave women without adequate contraception, and at risk for unintended pregnancy.”
Based on that information alone, one would expect the stork to be making quite a few unscheduled appearances at homes around the US.
But a follow-up statement by Pfizer provides a different view, and it’s not making the big headlines.
The follow-up statement says that Pfizer believes there are “approximately 30 packs of birth control pills that may have received an inexact count or inactive tablet.” So while nearly 1 million pill packs may have been recalled, there may be only 30 or so that actually have a problem with them. And the problem? According to the company, a placebo pill may have been placed out of order in the pill rotation. According to Fox News, the issue first came to light when a consumer noticed the different colored placebo pill in the middle of the pack. After that incident, all possibly affected lots were recalled.
What may be more troubling to women who have been taking the pills is that, also according to Fox News, pharmacies and distributors were notified of the recall on December 28. The public wasn’t notified until yesterday, and only then at the request of the FDA. Fox News quoted a Pfizer spokesman as saying the company did not believe they needed to notify the general public because of the “low defect rate and our health-hazard assessment.”
While a million recalled apparently does not equate to a million of the birth control pill packs being defective, the packs that are defective could still lead to unwanted pregnancies. Pfizer is asking consumers that were using any of the recalled packs (list here) to “please consult with your physician and begin using a non-hormonal barrier method immediately.”