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Posted at 11:21 AM ET, 02/01/2012

Pfizer recall the newest troubling development around birth control

A little more than 50 years after oral contraceptives were born, women may not be able to rely on that trusty little pill any more.


Birth control pills. (Associated Press)
Pfizer Inc. announced Wednesday that it is recalling 1 million packets of birth control pills. The company says a packaging error means many women could have gotten an inadequate dose of the drug if they took Lo/Ovral-28 or generic norgestrel/ethinyl estradiol pills. Some women could have gotten pregnant accidentally.

The announcement comes on the heels of other troubling developments around birth control. Last month, an advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration said that labels on the popular Yaz and Yasmin pills needed to be strengthened, the Washington Monthly and BMJ reported. The committee said more information should be provided about the pills possibly causing blood clots in women.

While studies about the side effects of Yaz and Yasmin have shown different results, one FDA analysis reported that about 10 in 10,000 women taking pills with drospirenone (a compound in Yasmin) will experience a blood clot or venous thromboembolism in a year. That number drops to six in 10,000 if a woman is using other hormonal contraceptives.

A Danish study of women warned of an even higher risk of using Yaz or Yasmin, finding that women taking the pills had double the risk of blood clots compared with women who took other contraceptives. The study was published in the journal BMJ in October and surveyed 1.3 million Danish women.

Women are self-reporting the same problems. To date, more than 10,000 lawsuits have been filed against Bayer, the maker of Yaz and Yasmin, with claims that women have been harmed by taking the pills.

Yasmin “survivor boards”also abound online, where women discuss side effects possibly caused by the drug, including depression, sleeplessness, anxiety and nausea.

“It's handed out like candy,” Holly Grigg-Spall, a 27-year-old blogger who stopped taking the pill several years ago told The Post in 2010. Grigg-Spall urges other women to stop taking oral contraceptives at Sweeteningthepill.blogspot.com, or at least consider the side effects.

“You imagine it's just this harmless little pill,” she said. “I... hope that this event puts women using birth control pills back in touch with the reality of taking a pill every day. I hope it reminds us all that the Pill is a drug (and a product of a billion dollar industry) and should as such be viewed with a critical eye.”

By  |  11:21 AM ET, 02/01/2012

Tags:  National, Pfizer, birth control, Yaz, Yasmin

 
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