More than 100 women who blame their pregnancies on errant birth control packaging have joined a negligence lawsuit filed in Philadelphia against several drug companies.
The lawsuit follows a 2011 recall of more than 500,000 blister packs after an Iowa customer found the pills packaged out of order, potentially increasing the chance of getting pregnant.
All but four of the 117 women involved in the lawsuit became pregnant and 94 went on to give birth.
They are now suing Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. and other companies that made or distributed the pills under various brand names. The women are seeking damages for lost income, medical costs and, in some cases, the cost of raising their children.
A spokeswoman at Endo's U.S. headquarters in Malvern told NBC10 that patient safety is the company's top priority.
"The voluntary recall occurred based on an extremely small number of pill packs that were manufactured by an external contract manufacturer," spokeswoman Heather Zoumas Lubeski said. "Endo has been able to confirm only one blister pack that manifested a defect and was sold to a patient."
The lawsuit filed last week in Philadelphia came days after a federal judge in Georgia refused to grant class-action certification to a similar suit filed there.
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U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones noted in his ruling that only 53 of the half-million recalled blister packs had the pills arranged in reverse order in the package. He said that each woman's case was unique — given whether she became pregnant, whether she carried the pregnancy to term, the relevant laws in her state, and whether she kept the package or receipt — and should be weighed individually.
"It is not enough that each class member prove that defendants sold a defective product," Jones wrote. "Each plaintiff must show in an individualized manner which 'physical symptoms' she suffered, her medical history, and whether her use of any allegedly defective product resulted in these physical symptoms or a pregnancy."
The recall involved the brand names Cyclafem, Emoquette, Gildess, Orsythia, Previfem and Tri-Previfem.
Each packet of birth control contains 28 days' worth of pills, with 21 containing hormones that prevent pregnancy and seven placebos pills. Women are supposed to take the pills in order and not mix the placebos with the active pills. The pills are normally color-coded to note the difference.
Laws in some states allow women to sue over the cost of raising a child to age 18, according to lawyer Keith Bodoh of Marietta, Georgia, who filed the Philadelphia lawsuit. Damages in a few states could include the cost of college. But the formula in four states involves the cost of raising a child minus the presumed benefits.
"It's amorphous, what to decide (is) the cost and benefit of rearing a child," Bodoh said this week.