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Lawsuits over Birth Control Pill Recall Could be on Horizon for Pfizer

Filed February 3rd, 2012 Julie

Pfizer could be facing large and numerous lawsuits filed by women who became pregnant while taking defective birth control pills, according to some experts.

The courts have often thought of unwanted pregnancy lawsuits along the same lines as malpractice suits, according to I. Glenn Cohen, assistant professor and co-director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. Others have been allowed to sue for things like botched vasectomies. There was even a case in which women successfully sued a pharmacist for an unwanted pregnancy that resulted from errors in filling the plaintiff’s birth control prescriptions.

Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, says the best case scenario would be for the affected women to band together to bring a class-action against Pfizer, allowing them to ask for significantly more money than individual cases, and would be of more interest to lawyers.

A class-action case would also be more appealing because an individual child who would not exist without the birth control foul-up would not be singled out. “Judges and juries don’t tend to want to say ‘You’d be better off if you didn’t exist,'” Caplan said.
But many women will be reluctant to come forward at all, either because they don’t want people to know they are using birth control, while others won’t want to say in court that they would be better off without their child.

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