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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

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Pfizer Recalls 1M Birth Control Packets

After a packaging mix-up, Pfizer Products says some tablets may not contain the correct dosages to prevent pregnancy.

A Lo/Ovral®-28 packet, one of the products recalled by Pfizer.
A Lo/Ovral®-28 packet, one of the products recalled by Pfizer.
Nearly 1 million packets of birth control pills were recalled by Pfizer Inc. due to an increased risk of pregnancy from improperly filled packets containing inadequate pill dosages. 

The products recalled were 14 lots of Lo/Ovral-28 tablets and 14 lots of generic Norgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol tablets. Both products are marketed in the U.S. by Akrimax Rx Products, labeled under the Akrimax Pharmaceuticals brand and manufactured by Pfizer Products.

The company found that some packets had incorrect pill amounts, with some having too many active pills and some too few. Correct packets use 21 hormone pills and 7 inactive sugar pills to regulate menstruation and prevent pregnancy.

Deviation from the set ratio of pills raises the risk of accidental pregnancy since each missed or incorrectly ordered pill causes a break in the prescribed hormone cycle. 

In the first six months of last year, nearly 38.9 million prescriptions were filled for birth control, according to statistics released from the data firm IMS Health.

The firm says though that the pills under recall are not included in the top 5 birth control prescriptions. 

A spokeswoman for Pfizer says mechanical difficulties and failure to properly visually inspect the product on packaging lines were the causes of the problem but have been corrected. 

The company also says that the packaging defects do not pose any immediate health risk to patients. 

Pill packets with affected lot numbers have been advised to be returned by patients to their pharmacies. 

The lot numbers of the recalled pills can be found on the FDA's website.

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