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Health Canada announces third birth-control recall this year

Birth-control pills

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Health Canada is warning Canadian women about another recall of birth-control pills – the third in recent months.

This time, the recall involves Esme-28, a generic brand of contraceptive medication sold by Mylan Pharmaceuticals. Last week, Mylan announced it was recalling Freya-28, another generic birth control, after one package was found to contain a placebo pill instead of active medication.

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Health Canada said the newest recall is being done out of caution because Mylan has been "unable to rule out the possibility that Esme-28 was impacted" by the same placebo-pill issue that involved Freya-28.

The most recent recall will likely add to growing questions about the adequacy of quality control procedures used by manufacturers of birth-control pills.

Earlier this year, Health Canada and Apotex conducted a massive recall of Alysena-28, a generic birth-control pill, after a consumer found one placebo pill where an active pill should have been. Then-federal health minister Leona Aglukkaq had promised to investigate why the department did not issue a public warning about the problem with the birth-control pills until several days after it was identified. The Globe and Mail also reported that Apotex had been cited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for critical deficiencies at some of its manufacturing plants, and that the U.S. was threatening to halt imports from the company as a result.

Jennifer Blake, CEO of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, a respected medical group, described the problems surrounding Alysena-28 as unacceptable and said it raises important questions about the company and Health Canada's quality-control processes and vigilance.

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More


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