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A nationwide Pfizer birth-control recall, announced Feb. 1, could lead to lawsuits for unwanted pregnancies, legal experts say. Payouts could be huge.
Pfizer recalled about 1 million packets of birth-control pills because of a mix-up that could lead to unwanted pregnancies. The recalled products -- Lo/Ovral-28 and generic Norgestrel/Ethinyl Estradiol -- may not contain enough contraceptive to be effective, the Associated Press reports.
There are no health risks linked to the mix-up, Pfizer says. But some litigation attorneys foresee lawsuits linked to unexpected pregnancies that could net millions of dollars in damages.
"I think you potentially may see some very significant verdicts [if a woman gets pregnant]," New Jersey attorney Greg Gianforcaro told Fox News, "because in essence a person takes birth control pills so they don't have to address issues that -- as a result of the pill not working -- they're now going to have to address."
Potential Pfizer birth-control lawsuits could be similar to botched vasectomy lawsuits in which women sued after becoming pregnant, Gianforcaro told Fox. In one such case involving a special-needs child, the parents sued for $650 million, he said.
In another case, a woman successfully sued a pharmacist after an error in filling her birth-control prescription led to an unexpected pregnancy, Harvard bioethicist I. Glenn Cohen told LiveScience.com.
Plaintiffs who become pregnant because of Pfizer's birth-control mix-up could pursue a lawsuit to make Pfizer pay some of the costs of rearing the unexpected child, Gianforcaro said.
But Pfizer could also mount a defense. "There has to be proof that the person who got pregnant actually took the birth control pills, or there's the fact that having children could be associated with inherent benefits that outweigh the costs," Gianforcaro said.
Pfizer declined to comment about the potential for birth-control lawsuits. If you're considering such a move, you may want to speak with an attorney about the best way to proceed in your specific situation.