Drug Manufacturer Faces Lawsuit As Mislabeled Birth Control Pills Led To Unplanned Pregnancies


At least a hundred women are suing a drug manufacturing company when their contraceptive pills failed to prevent these women from becoming pregnant.

Lawsuits were filed against Qualitest Pharmaceuticals last Nov. 5 by 113 women from over 20 states, claiming that they became pregnant due to faulty packaging of contraceptive pills. Qualitest is a generic drug manufacturing company and a subsidiary of Irish company Endo Pharmaceuticals.

In 2011, Qualitest recalled many of their oral birth control pills because of a packaging error wherein the packs were rotated on the card by 180 degrees, thereby reversing the weekly orientation of the tablets leading to taking the wrong pills and increasing the chances of conceiving.

The suit, which was re-filed in a Philadelphia state court, claimed that the drugs were defective and dangerous in its design, packaging and distribution. The women affected were seeking a jury trial and for the company to pay for damages and even child support for the resulting babies, including education, up until they reach 18 years old.

The mother company, Endo, said that they were aware of the lawsuit filed against Qualitest but chose not to comment on it because it was against company policy to do so.

"The recall that forms the basis of this suit was entirely voluntary and occurred more than four years ago in September 2011," Heather Zoumas Lubeski said, spokesperson for Endo Pharmaceuticals said. "Endo has been able to confirm only one blister pack that manifested a defect and was sold to a patient."

Several lawsuits have also been filed against the company regarding the 2011 recall, but were not met with success. One lawsuit was asking for class action status for victims of the mix-up got rejected by a Georgia judge last Nov. 4. There was also a class suit filed under a Californian court in 2012, but it was also declined because the judge deemed that the case was fraught with individualized issues.

So, do these women really have a chance to win their cases in court?

Journalist Brian Palmer explained that while most states acknowledge unwanted pregnancies as a possible case, this usually applies to tubal ligation, vasectomy or procedures that can supposedly prevent pregnancy with 100 percent effectiveness. What makes it hard for pill users to win this case is that pills are notorious for being only at most 99 percent effective, even if without defects.

"It's hard to prove an unwanted pregnancy is due to a flawed pill," Palmer wrote. "[I]f a woman chooses to sue, the manufacturer can try to convince a jury that she didn't take her pills on schedule."

There's even less chance of plaintiffs requesting for child support to win the support they are seeking. Courts are usually hesitant to award full child support benefits to them because they don't want people to frame the resulting children and parenthood as plain damages.

Photo: Nate Grigg | Flickr

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