Women on birth control are well aware that skipping a dose, taking pills at wildly varied times of day or otherwise inconsistently ingesting their medication can lead to an unplanned pregnancy. They trust that if they take their pills every day at the same time, that they will almost certainly avoid becoming pregnant.

However, taking one’s medication responsibly does not always prevent pregnancy. And unfortunately, one risk that hundreds of thousands of women are currently grappling with is that their birth control may be considered a defective drug.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has recently recalled approximately 1 million packages of a popular oral contraceptive, due to a manufacturing error. Flawed packages of Lo/Ovral-28 and its generic versions Norgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol have pills sequenced out of proper order.

The hormonal balance in the sequencing of birth control pills is precise. Unknowingly taking pills out of order could cause doses which are effectively “missed” or incorrect for the given day in a woman’s cycle. This inconsistency could unintentionally lead to an unplanned pregnancy.

Though Pfizer became aware of the issue in December, it did not publically announce a recall. The company did contact pharmacies and asked them to remove affected packages from their stock. However, the Food and Drug Administration recently insisted that Pfizer admit the error and announce the recall to the media and patients.

Women who have ingested an affected packet are being advised to contact their physicians, if they have had otherwise unprotected sex while on the medication.

There is always a small risk of unplanned pregnancy, even for women who are completely responsible about family planning. Unfortunately, drug manufacturer error is currently an added risk for too many women.

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