A recent announcement by the Food and Drug Administration has raised alarm among people taking the birth control pill Mibelas 24 Fe. According to a press release, Lupin Pharmaceuticals put out a voluntary recall of the popular birth control brand after a packaging error switched the placing of the non-hormonal placebo pills with the active tablets. The birth control could therefore have been less effective in preventing pregnancy for anyone taking the pills.
Each birth control wallet contains four placebo pills and 24 active pills. The company issued the recall after discovering that placebo pills were put in the wrong place in the birth control wallet. According to a "confirmed market complaint," the packaging error was at least partly due to an erroneous 180-degree rotation of the packaging, causing the weekly tablet orientation to be reversed, and the first four days of the treatment mistakenly contained placebo pills instead of active ones. The four darker placebo pills occupied the first four slots of the wallet in the batch, rather than the last four where they usually are.
Lupin Pharmaceuticals' statement on the Mibelas 24 Fe pills indicates that the recall applies to lot L600518, with May 31, 2018 as the expiration date. The company said it had notified distributors and customers of the recall, but also encouraged customers to contact their doctors and return the product.
To emphasize the seriousness of the recall, Lupin also noted in its statement that unintended pregnancy on its own is not the only potential adverse affect of the packaging mix-up. For some customers, an unintended pregnancy could have "significant adverse maternal or fetal health consequences, including death." Thankfully, Lupin reported, there have been no reports of such consequences.
The effects of an error of this magnitude could be devastating. If someone taking these birth control pills was not in a position to have a child, whether physically, mentally, or financially, an unintended pregnancy caused by faulty packaging would have taken a serious toll. 2017 has been full of bad news about contraception, with the current administration attempting to restrict access to it as much as possible. It's terrifying to think that even the contraception we still have access to could pose potential risks to our health and well-being.
It's fortunate that the recall was announced before any adverse affects were reported, but anyone who still has this product should return it to a pharmacy or its place of purchase as soon as possible.