A pharmaceutical behemoth is the current subject of controversy after a product recall due to a packaging error. On Tuesday, pharmaceutical company Allergan issued a recall for its birth control product — an almost dizzying 170,000 Taytulla packs — after a physician alerted them to the wrong order of the pills. The packs have been in circulation since August and will expire in May 2019.
Normally, a typical Taytulla pack will consist of 24 pink-colored pills with hormones in the beginning of the birth control treatment. These pills are then followed by four maroon-colored placebo capsules without hormones at the end. In the case of the recent recall, the order was reversed with the placebo capsules first and the pink-colored pills later — and this could lead to unplanned pregnancies, according to a statement from Allergan.
In a statement released on its website on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the company said, "As a result of this packaging error, oral contraceptive capsules, that are taken out of sequence, may place the user at risk for contraceptive failure and unintended pregnancy. The reversing of the order may not be apparent to either new users or previous users of the product, increasing the likelihood of taking the capsules out of order."
The spokesperson added, "If patients have concerns regarding the possibility of an unintended pregnancy they should consult their physician."
Here are two photos to explain just how how mind-boggling the Allergan packaging error is. On the left, you'll see an incorrectly-packaged Taytulla pack and on the right, you'll see correctly-packaged Taytulla pack with the four placebo capsules at the very end.
It's a packaging error with possible medical repercussions. The first 24 days of the Taytulla birth control treatment is, normally, supposed to carry ethinyl estradiol in the first 24 pills. These are the pink-colored pills shown above.
The last four capsules don't have any hormones in them, are colored maroon, and supposed to function as placebos. The order here is critical as the first 24 days are supposed carry ethinyl estradiol for minimizing the likelihood of pregnancy.
In their company statement, Allergan's spokesperson also said, "Allergan is notifying customers by recall letter and is arranging for return of all recalled sample pack product with the lot [numbered] 5620706 [with an expiration date of] May 2019. Consumers who have the sample pack product with the associated lot number should notify their physician to arrange a return."
The company may have also taken a financial hit after the announcement related to its product recall. CBS News reported that on Tuesday, shares for publicly-traded Allergan had tanked by 2 percent. The spokesperson for Allergan stated that the company recalled the Taytulla packets with the knowledge of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
So far, according to the Wall Street Journal, there have been no reports of unplanned pregnancies as a result of the company's packaging error. Still, Allergan's product recall has elicited a variety of reactions, from horror to incredulity on social media, and even a few instances of wry humor. One Twitter user joked, "So, I guess if we see a jump in babies named Taytulla we will know why." BuzzFeed's Lauren Strapagiel mused that it's not exactly a bad name, if you think about it.
If you were one of the people to use the Taytulla packs and experienced an issue, Allergan advises to report the problem to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program. You can do it through email or regular mail. And if you want to directly speak with a Allergan representative, it won't hurt to call 1-800-678-1605.