Johnson & Johnson has issued another massive recall, this time on 32 million packages of birth control pills because of a flaw that could cause unplanned pregnancies. The oral contraceptives are sold in 43 countries around the world, but not in the United States. This recall is one of about 40 the consumer health product giant has issued on everything from over-the-counter medications to artificial hips since 2009.
The recall was initiated because quality tests performed on the drugs showed one of the two hormones in the pills was releasing slower than it should. The company said the risk of unplanned pregnancy was “very low,” and thus the pills are being recalled from pharmacies and wholesalers but not from women.
The recall affects 179 lots or batches of Cilest birth control pills, which have been sold in various countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America since 2011. Each lot contains about 180,000 monthly packs – or about 32 million packages. An estimated 800,000 are still in inventory at pharmacies and warehouses.
Johnson & Johnson has been plagued with major recalls in recent years including adult and children’s Tylenol and Motrin, contact lenses, blood glucose monitors, and metal hip implants for reasons including foul smelling medicine bottles, incorrect active ingredients and artificial hips that may corrode inside the body making people sick. The recalls have resulted in a more than $1 billion loss in product sales for the company, and thousands of lawsuits. Though both the current CEO Alex Gorsky and former chief Bill Weldon have vowed to resolve the problems, the recalls keep coming.