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The Pfizer Birth Control Pill Recall and Lawsuits

Much ado has been made over the last few days about a recall of a million birth control pills by Pfizer. The recall was announced late last week, on January 31st. It seems that the problem stemmed from a packaging error. Pills that were placebos-without any active ingredients to have the intended effect on the taker-were packaged as actual pills. Those pills were then distributed to consumers. The company explained that Lo-Obral-28, Norgestrol, and Ethinyl Estradiol were all packaged incorrectly, meaning that those who took these pills may not have protection from pregnancy as they rightly would expect.

As explained in the IB Times, this situation raises whole host of issues, and our Chicago birth injury lawyers know that many community members will be asking very tough questions about this situation in the coming weeks and months. The recall is essentially an intersection of product liability cases, health law, and basic negligence. Injury lawyers across the country will likely be working hard to understand how the law might apply in these cases, depending on the specific harm caused by the mix-up.

Of course, the “harm” that might occur in these cases is an unplanned pregnancy. Each Illinois birth injury lawyer knows that while it is perhaps illogical to use the word “harm” in this case, it is certainly appropriate for those who purchase and use a pill to prevent pregnancy to seek recourse when basic errors on the drug company’s part mean that pill did not act as intended.

In some ways this is uncharted territory as far as the law is concerned. A local law school professor at the University of Loyola School of Law’s Beazley Institute for Health and Law Policy explained, “I’m not aware of any cases where a wrongful conception suit is brought against the manufacturers of contraception.” Wrongful contraception cases are filed when a person or business failed to act reasonably which leads to a pregnancy that otherwise would not have occurred.

It may come down to an argument about odds. No contraception promises 100% prevention of births. However, the effective rate certainly changed dramatically depending on the active ingredients in a pill. A placebo would offer no protection.

It is far too early to give any clear answers about the legal ramifications of this recall. Much more will be parsed out in the future as the realities of the situation crystallize in the form of real injury lawsuits and legal expert gather information to make claims for recovery. A lot also depends on how Pfizer seeks to respond to the situation. Depending on how much the company steps up to accept accountability for the error, if may become easier for victims to be easily and quickly compensated in a fair way. In all cases, however, anyone who suspects that they may have an unwanted pregnancy or was otherwise affected by the recall should seek out legal help as soon as possible so that one’s rights are preserved. Timing matters in these situations, so there is nothing to gain from waiting before seeking out proper legal representation.

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