May 16, 2013 4:25 pm
Updated: May 16, 2013 7:19 pm

Law firm says 40 women pregnant in wake of birth control pill recall


TORONTO – A law firm in Thunder Bay, Ontario that launched an $800-million class action lawsuit against the company that recalled a birth control pill in Canada is claiming that 40 women are now pregnant.

In the wake of Apotex’s recall of birth control pill Alysena in April, lawyers at Watkins Law Professional Corporation says that 40 women are pregnant while other women have stepped forward to join the class action.

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“Over the last couple of weeks, our website and other forms of social media inputs have been inundated with calls from concerned women and potential claimants,” lawyer Christopher Watkins said in a statement.

His colleague, Sandy Alexander Zaitzeff says that so far, 40 pregnancies and four abortions have occurred so far. About 60 women from across Canada have joined the class action. 

“We have well over 25 women who now claim to have become wrongfully pregnant while taking the drug Alysena. We have hundreds more who have contacted us and expressed concern and trauma and are in a waiting game.”

The statement says a “steady stream” of callers are anxious after hearing that the contraceptive “they placed so much dependency on” may have failed.

“Some have serious medical issues which could result in potential severe medical complications if they become pregnant. Others are left in turmoil of how they will react…,” the statement read.

Apotex has not yet responded to the claims made in the lawsuit.

Watkins was not available for comment Thursday.

In an interview when the class action was first launched, he told Global News that women don’t have to be pregnant to join the lawsuit.

Read more: Ontario women launch class action suit against Alysena distributor

He said that in some instances, if women deliver babies with birth defects or any issues that would need additional care, they could sue for damages linked to these costs. Meanwhile, other women may have taken time off work to deal with pregnancy, the fallout of relationships or health concerns.

“The gamut is very wide,” Watkins had said.

On April 8, Health Canada warned women that the product contained two weeks’ worth of placebos instead of one.

Read more: Health Canada recalls birth control pill Alysena

It added that the “possibility of unplanned pregnancy cannot be ruled out.”

About 50,000 packets of the product with the recalled lot number LF01899A was distributed across Canada, except for in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Days later, the recall was expanded to include 11 additional lots of the pill, but only as a precautionary measure.

Now, Watkins is appealing to women across Ontario and other parts of Canada to contact him on the firm’s website.

Watkins says that he filed the class action after a few women reached out to him. Only three people are needed to form a class action.

The claim has been issued in the Superior Court of Justice in Thunder Bay, Watkins said. He says he anticipates that other provinces could be taking on their own cases.

Aglukkaq has ordered an investigation into why Canadian women were not immediately informed of the recall. An initial recall notice by Apotex was sent to retailers and distributors but a public notice wasn’t released until five days later.

Apotex spokesperson Elie Betito told Global News in April that the company will not comment on legal proceedings before the court. He did not respond to request for comment Thursday.

Sabrina Lombardi, a lawyer with Siskinds LLP in London, Ont., says that the lawsuit is a novel case in Canada.

“It is a very difficult and novel issue to pursue,” she told Global News.

“It depends on what exactly the damages are with respect to the pregnancy,” she said. She explained that if the pregnancy resulted in a disabled child, for example, some damages could be recovered to care for the baby.

“It’s very wide open. This area of law is not at all settled,” she said.

In April, other lawyers weighed in, noting that it could be an uphill climb to prove it was these recalled pills that caused pregnancy.

“The short story is that people will very likely bring lawsuits in Canada against this manufacturer,” said Harvard University professor and Canadian Glenn Cohen.

“They’ll have to show the mistake regarding the placebo caused them to be pregnant and had it not been one of these placebo pills, they would not have gotten pregnant.”

© 2013 Shaw Media

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