Should faulty birth-control users win a lawsuit vs. Pfizer?

BY DI STAFF | FEBRUARY 10, 2012 6:30 AM

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A manufacturing disaster by Pfizer Inc., one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies, led to some birth-control pills being distributed with the pills out of order.

This means that a patient could have unknowingly skipped a pill and raised her risk of unwanted pregnancy.


Pfizer has recalled approximately 1 million packets of Lo Ovral-28 and the medicine's generic brands — meaning there is a possibility of 1 million unwanted pregnancies because of the error.

Not only should women be able to sue Pfizer for this mistake — they should win.

Of course, you can argue that the women engaged in sexual behavior leading to pregnancy, and the pill is not said to be 100 percent effective. It can be said it was the woman's choice in the first place to have sex, so she is the only one who should be held liable.

But it was the women's choice in the first place to take action preventing unwanted pregnancy — and for that they relied on one of the world's largest drug producers under the advisement of their doctors. The women were responsible enough to combat the risks of getting pregnant.

The pill is often said to be nearly 100 percent effective when used correctly — if Pfizer wants to argue the pregnancies could have happened anyway, because there is a very small percent chance its product doesn't work, it will have a hard time arguing to future patients its product works at all.

Also, it's the precedent. Giant industries such as pharmaceutical companies should not be able to get away with their products being defective. They can't just get away with dodgy arguments such as "a person may have gotten pregnant either way" or "you should have used another means of birth-control along with the pill."

Pfizer packaged the pills wrong. It made a mistake. Women who may have been victims of this mistake will have their entire lives changed, good or bad, not by choice, but by a company's error.

If we don't hold these companies liable, then what does the precedent say? The auto industry shouldn't be held liable for faulty brake systems because there is a relatively high chance drivers would have died in a crash anyways.

No — the company manufactured a defective product and it should compensate the customers who were victims of its mistake.

— Benjamin Evans


The recent Pfizer recall of a popular birth-control pill has caused quite the buzz in the female community, especially on college campuses, where sex is always a hot topic. Along with this recall, debates have risen over whether women will have the right to sue Pfizer if the faulty pills result in an unintended pregnancy.

It would be naïve to believe that a lawsuit against Pfizer would be possible or even justified.

The recalled pill, Lo Ovral-28, comes with an insert in every pill-pack that charts statistics about the effectiveness of this pill. Not once does this insert claim that the pill is 100 percent effective and is actually only 91.3 percent effective with women's ideal use of the pill (not taking it at the same time of day, skipping pills, etc.).

Because the company never claims that the pill is 100 percent effective, women cannot file a suit against the company for a risk about which they have been warned repeatedly.

If women were to disregard this logic and file a suit against Pfizer, it would be a civil suit that would be messy and unproductive. The amount of money they would demand to compensate for their pregnancy could possibly creep up to $226,920 each, which is the average cost of raising a child in the United States.

Another negative effect of this civil suit is that it would be fairly easy and convenient for women taking this recalled pill to jump on the compensation bandwagon and take advantage of the situation.

One million packs were recalled, and if every woman on this pill claimed a part of the compensation not only might this bankrupt Pfizer, but not all the women would be compensated.

The claim to any sort of compensation from Pfizer for an unintended pregnancy is unrealistic because it is virtually impossible to place the blame on Pfizer when it never claim its product to be 100 percent effective. If a lawsuit were to follow these recalls, it would be chaotic and have no positive outcomes.

This should not even be a debated issue. What ever happened to consumer responsibility?

— Rebecca Abellera

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