A Vancouver Island woman has filed a class action lawsuit against a Canadian pharmaceutical company after hearing about a recall of her birth control brand and discovering she was pregnant.
Taylor MacKinnon, a 23-year-old woman from Victoria, was taking Alesse 21, a prescribed oral contraceptive that she had been taking since 2014 without any pregnancies.
On December 1, 2017, Pfeizer Canada Inc. released a recall notice saying that some packages of Alesse 21 and Alesse 28 might contain broken or smaller than usual pills which would reduce their effectiveness. In an announcement from Health Canada, the products affected included Alesse 21 pills from lot A2532 and Alesse 28 from lot A3183, though it was not known at the time if other lots were affected.
MacKinnon heard of the announcement on Dec. 6, 2017 and discovered she was pregnant Dec. 16, 2017. She has decided to carry the pregnancy, and she and her partner are expecting a daughter in August.
According to MacKinnon’s lawyer, Anthony Leoni of Rice Harbut Elliott LLP, MacKinnon did not take pills from the specifically-mentioned lots, but claims that there is a risk that other lots could be affected. He also said she would not have chosen to continue taking Alesse if she had known about the recall earlier.
Leoni said the unintended pregnancy is part of a larger story of women’s reproductive rights, and that the company’s approach to the recall was negligent and a failure to properly warn women.
“This has been an impact on her career choices,” Leoni said. “Reproductive health is a playing field between men and women with what they can choose to do with their life and careers. This is what was taken away from women who take Alesse. “
Leoni noted that while there’s always a risk in taking birth control pills, Alesse claims the chances of unexpected pregnancies when taking the pills as directed is less than one per cent.
“We want to establish that the risk was much greater with these lots,” Leoni said.
The law generally does not cover damages for the lifetime cost of raising a child, but Leoni said the lawsuit is still pursuing compensation for damages for the disruption to MacKinnon’s life as a result of the unplanned pregnancy.
In order for the class action lawsuit to carry forward, at least one other woman needs to come forward with a similar claim.