Carly Weeks – as well as other women’s health advocates – are finally raising the alarm over synthetic hormone (oral contraceptives) safety and efficacy. Weeks’ opening line: “Are birth-control pills held to a lower standard than other prescription medications?”.. is one we all need to seriously consider.
I think it falls into the same category with this question: “Is women’s health held to a lower standard than men’s health? If you can answer that question – then the rest will make sense.
In this blogger’s humble opinion women’s bodies have become ‘playgrounds for profit.’ It all fits in with the theory – that we are the ‘second sex’ – we came from Adam’s rib – or has Holly Grigg-Spall states in her book, Sweetening the Pill, “femaleness was a mental illness that required constant management.” This is the TRUTH pill we all need to swallow – to wake up and reclaim our bodies.
Why are faulty birth-control pills being treated as a minor inconvenience?
The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Sep. 15 2013, 4:00 PM EDT
Are birth-control pills held to a lower standard than other prescription medications?
The facts surrounding three recent recalls of oral contraceptives suggest the answer is yes.
In April, Apotex announced a recall of Alysena-28 after a consumer found an extra placebo in her package of pills. Last month, Mylan
Pharmaceuticals announced a recall of Freya-28 because of the same packaging error. About a week later, Mylan recalled Esme-28 because it was made in the same plant as Freya and the company couldn’t rule out the possibility it was affected by the problem.
Women’s health advocates say that not only has this recent string of recalls shaken their confidence in the quality and safety of oral contraceptives available in Canada, but that it also highlights a lack of understanding, or appreciation, for why women need access to reliable contraception. Some say the muted response to the recalls is part of a wider societal trend of ignoring the importance of women’s health issues, particularly as they relate to reproductive rights, and characterizing critical matters like contraception as “lifestyle” issues.
“It becomes unsettling,” said Dr. Jennifer Blake, CEO of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. “This is what women have never had to worry about in the past.”
Although the recalls have sparked worry among many women and medical professionals across the country, there has been a lacklustre response from drug manufacturers and the federal government, said Blake. Pharmacists and doctors were not officially notified of the birth-control problem by federal authorities and there have been significant delays informing the public of at least one of the recalls.
But what many can’t understand is how faulty birth-control pills can be characterized as a minor inconvenience.
Health Canada issued a “Type II” hazard classification for the Alysena-28 recall, which is used to signify a non-urgent problem that may cause “temporary adverse health consequences or where the probability of a serious adverse health consequence is remote.” A Health Canada spokeswoman said pregnancy isn’t considered a health risk, hence the lack of urgency. The department later added a “Type I” classification to the recall, but only because certain women, such as those who have been medically advised against pregnancy, could be harmed. Health Canada did not include hazard classifications for the two most recent birth-control recalls, but the fact that no warning letters were sent to doctors or pharmacists indicates they were classified as Type II.
So what does Health Canada consider to be an urgent Type I recall?
Here are two recent examples: Earlier this month, over-the-counter heartburn tablets were recalled because of a misprint on the packaging. Then there was the urgent recall of Ibuprofen capsules sold without a child-resistant cap.
While missing a birth-control pill may not seem as harmful as missing a chemotherapy appointment or getting the wrong heart medication, it can actually be a very serious matter. Birth-control pills require precision, attentiveness and diligence. In order to be effective, active hormonal birth-control pills must be taken every day for 21 days. That is followed by seven days in which no pill is taken, which is when a woman would expect her period. Some pill packages come with seven placebo pills that women take during that week to keep them in the habit and help them remember to take their daily pill.