Pfizer suspects 30 packs of contraceptives mispackaged; pulls 1 million just in case

Workers at a Pfizer ($PFE) plant in upstate New York that makes birth control pills are learning that if you mispackage pills, it can create unwanted problems.

Pfizer announced Wednesday that it is recalling 1 million packets, 14 batches of Lo/Ovral-28 pills and 14 batches of its generic counterparts, norgestrel and ethinyl estradiol tablets. The pills were manufactured and packaged by Pfizer but, Bloomberg says, marketed by Akrimax Rx Products under the Akrimax Pharmaceuticals brand.

Some packets were found with too many active tablets, while others had too few and so the active and inert pills were out of order. Pfizer was notified after an alert customer noticed she had a pink pill where a white one belonged, indicating the active and inert portions of the pack were out of order.

Pfizer told the media there were three ways that on rare occasions the problem could have materialized:

  • The design of the packaging line could allow for incorrect placement of the pills;

  • A mechanical system for detecting defective packs could miss one in "very, very infrequent" times; or

  • Plant workers could also miss problem packs.

Pfizer said it has since fixed the problems. The company said it believes that only 30 packs were mispackaged, but it withdrew an additional 999,970 just to be safe.

- here's the WSJ story
- read Bloomberg's take 
- here's the Pfizer statement