By: Tatum Tipton
With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I find myself thinking fondly of my nephew, Lennon. I don’t have children of my own, but I’ve always loved Lennon as if he were my own. I was there for his first breath of life. I’ve changed his diapers, wiped his tears, and cheered him on from the sidelines. I’m so fortunate that I have had the privilege of watching him grow into the charming, hilarious, wonderful almost-eleven-year-old he is today. As strong of a bond as we have, however, I am not his mother. After spoiling him and getting him all hopped up on sugar, I get to send him home for my sister to deal with. I also have the luxury of buying things for him that I know my sister would not—either because of the cost, or because annoyingly loud toys are a great way to get her back for her antics while we were growing up.
While no mother begrudges her child the costs, it is expensive to raise a child. According to a recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it will cost the average middle-income family close to $245,000 to raise a child born in 2013 for 18 years. This estimate takes into account necessities such as food, housing, childcare, healthcare, and education. But it does not include the costs associated with pregnancy, extracurricular activities, and outings, or any expenses after your child turns 18, like college. Between the cost, stress, and necessary changes that come from having a child, it is a deeply personal decision that is not often taken lightly.
With that in mind, we should all be able to sympathize with a woman who unexpectedly becomes pregnant after her birth control pills were made ineffective by the manufacturer. Couldn’t happen, you say? But that is exactly what happened to more than 100 women who were taking Qualitest Birth Control Pills.
In September of 2011, Qualitest recalled 3.2 million birth control pill packets due to the fact that the pills were packaged so that the blisters were rotated 180 degrees, reversing the weekly tablet orientation—meaning the women took placebo pills when they should have been taking active pills. As a result of the packaging error, the daily regimen for the birth control pills left women without adequate contraception. Even though the birth control pills were used as directed, 113 women ended up with an unexpected pregnancy.
The mistake made by Qualitest’s defective and dangerously designed packaging left all the woman facing life-altering consequences. Some had to drop out of school, some made the difficult decision to give their child up for an adoption because they were not ready to raise a baby, and one woman faced a high risk pregnancy after finding out she was pregnant with not one, but two babies. These women’s lives were unexpectedly turned upside down because the manufacturer made a mistake.
This case gives a very good glimpse into what we look at when deciding whether to become involved in a case against a pharmaceutical company. Even when taken correctly, 1 in 100 women who use oral birth control pills will become pregnant. If that woman wants to sue the maker of her birth control pills, we will likely not take that case because it is a risk she knowingly took. On the other hand, when a company like Qualitest improperly makes a product that increases those risks, the people who faced that added risk and were hurt should be compensated by the irresponsible manufacturer. Those women accepted a 1 in 100 risk, not the much greater risk they never knew about caused by improper manufacturing.
Unfortunately, the case against Qualitest Pharmaceuticals has been an uphill battle and is currently pending in Pennsylvania. Trying cases against big pharmaceutical companies can be a difficult and tricky process. If you ever find yourself or a loved one the victim of a dangerous drug, you should contact an attorney who is equipped to hold big pharma accountable while getting you the help you deserve.