What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell Us

Pfizer recalls a million birth control packs

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Feb 1, 2012

Adriene Hill: Pfizer is asking women to return about a million packs of pills. Apparently, some pills weren’t packaged correctly.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer tells us what the recall means for consumers and Pfizer.


Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Birth control pills have to be taken in a certain order to work. They have varying amounts of hormones. And, for days when you’re not supposed to get any hormones, some packets contain sugar pills.

Pfizer says some of the recalled packages have sugar pills where there are supposed to be active pills. Or too many sugar pills, or not enough active ones.

So what legal recourse do women have if they became pregnant while taking the recalled pills? Recalls with this much impact often end up in court.

Ira Rheingold is an attorney, and head of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. He thinks some consumers will sue Pfizer. And he says they’d have a pretty good case.

Ira Rheingold: Selling a product that you represent for a certain purpose and in fact, you screw up and in fact it doesn’t meet that purpose, really is misrepresentation and deception.

Rheingold says it’s not clear what kind of damages consumers could sue for. He says it would be a bit of a stretch to sue for say, child support. But he says a big, expensive class action type of lawsuit is possible.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall-Genzer for Marketplace.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.