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Birth Control Lawsuit Seeks Damages For Unplanned Pregnancies

More than 100 women across the U.S. have filed a lawsuit against a drug company, saying that an error in the packaging of birth control pills resulted in unplanned pregnancies. Some of the plaintiffs are asking drugmaker Qualitest to pay for the cost of raising their children.

The plaintiffs say their pregnancies stem from a packaging error in 2011 in which placebo and hormone pills were flipped 180 degrees — reversing the tablet regimen and thus leaving women vulnerable to an unintended pregnancy. That error sparked the recall of several million blister packets of the birth control pills.

The lawsuit was filed in state court in Pennsylvania, where Qualitest's parent company, Endo Pharmaceuticals, has its U.S. headquarters. The suit names other companies as co-defendants, saying they were also involved in producing the recalled pills.

"The case seeks millions in damages, including in some cases the costs of delivering, raising, and educating the children borne of the unplanned pregnancies," according to Philly.com.

Back in September 2011, the Food and Drug Administration announced that Qualitest was issuing a voluntary recall of products that included Cyclafem, Emoquette, Gildess FE, Orsylthia and Previfem.

"As a result of this packaging error, the daily regimen for these oral contraceptives may be incorrect," the FDA and Qualitest said in 2011, "and could leave women without adequate contraception, and at risk for unintended pregnancy."

Citing court documents filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Philly.com says the recall was prompted when "a Kansas City woman returned a package to her pharmacist after noticing the blister pack had been rotated."

The case involves nearly 120 plaintiffs, in more than 20 states.

Commenting on the court filing, Endo tells ABC News that it has only confirmed that one blister pack was defective. The company adds, "The voluntary recall occurred based on an extremely small number of pill packs that were manufactured by an external contract manufacturer."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.