You may wonder, “How effective is birth control?” The effectiveness of popular birth controls can range from 71 percent to 99 percent, depending on the method used.1 But a recent rash of birth control recalls points to problems with quality control, which could lead to unintended pregnancies.
What prompted recalls of popular birth controls?
Combination oral contraceptives are among the most common birth control methods. They come in a pack that includes active and inactive pills. To prevent pregnancy, you must take the pills in a certain order.
But mix-ups have happened during the manufacturing process.2 As a result, some packages may contain the wrong number of active versus inactive pills or show the pills in the wrong order. This could make it hard to take the pills correctly, which increases your risk of pregnancy.
If you suspect that you may have taken recalled birth control medication, immediately consult your health care provider. You may also wish to contact an attorney who specializes in birth control recall class action suits to find out what your rights are.
Which drugs are on the recalled birth control list?
Introvale™: Ten batches of the drug Introvale3 were recalled in June 2012 when a consumer noticed placebo tablets in the wrong row of her pack. The recalled pills appeared on the market between January 2011 and May 2012.
Norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol: In February 2012, Glenmark Generics issued a voluntary recall of seven batches of norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol tablets. All of the recalled lots have 2013 expiration dates.4 However, you may not be able to see the lot number or expiration date on the package.
Lo/Ovral-28® and norgestre and ethinyl estradiol: Pfizer recalled 14 lots of Lo/Ovral-28 tablets and 14 lots of generic norgestre and ethinyl estradiol tablets5 in January 2012. The packages may contain the wrong number of active versus inactive pills and may appear in the wrong order. Expiration dates ranged from July 31, 2013, to March 31, 2014.6
Qualitest Pharmaceuticals recalls: In September 2011, packaging snafus also prompted Qualitest Pharmaceuticals to recall several birth control medications7, including:
- Gildess FE®
Unfortunately, users will not be able to read the lot number or expiration date on these flawed packages.
What if I’ve taken recalled birth control?
Stop taking the recalled drug immediately and contact your health care professional. Ask your pharmacist how to return the medication. Use nonhormonal birth control methods, such as condoms or diaphragms. If you have questions about your legal rights, contact a lawyer. You may be entitled to join a birth control recall class action lawsuit if you became pregnant while using one of these popular birth control methods.8
Why isn't Yaz® being recalled?
Consumer advocates have been urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to recall the popular birth control drug Yaz. However, the agency has refused to recall the drug, despite its own concerns about the drug's link to blood clots that could endanger users.9
Rather than issue a recall, the FDA decided to change the drug's labeling. The new label strengthens warnings about the risk of blood clots. The FDA's refusal to recall this drug has prompted talk of class action lawsuits against Bayer Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Yaz.
How can I find out about recalled birth control?
You can sign up to receive FDA notices of recalls by email, text message, or RSS feed.10 You can also follow @FDArecalls on Twitter. Visit the FDA website for more information.
How do I report quality problems?
Recalls often start with smart consumers who speak up. You can use the FDA’s online reporting form to report your concerns.