A group of Ontario women, including 40 who are pregnant, have launched an $800-million class action against Apotex Inc., the maker of the recalled Alysena birth control pill.
The lawsuit involves about 60 women, among whom there have been 40 unwanted pregnancies and four abortions, according to Sandy Zaitzeff, a lawyer with Thunder Bay firm Watkins Law Professional Corporation, which launched the suit.
"They're angry, they're distressed, they're worried," Mr. Zaitzeff said of his clients. "There's a lot of stress in something like this."
A total of 50,000 packages of the Alysena birth control pill with the lot number LF01899A were recalled April 8 when it was discovered that some packs contained two rows of placebo pills instead of just one. On April 13, the recall was expanded to 11 other lot numbers.
Apotex did not notify customers of the initial recall for five days after the problem was identified, prompting federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to order an investigation into the delay on April 11.
Mr. Zaitzeff said the first plaintiff came to his firm last month, and since then the numbers have grown. He added that his clients come from across Canada and that he expects the number of women involved in the case to increase.
"The damages are substantial," he said, adding that his clients are facing financial, ethical, moral and health issues. "An unwanted pregnancy – to raise a child today is millions of dollars. Just because somebody had sex with another individual in today's world does not mean that they should be burdened with the costs of raising a child."
Mr. Zaitzeff said that the medical condition of the women involved in the suit is being "carefully investigated." However, he claims several health problems could arise.
"There are numerous health conditions which would warrant a person not becoming pregnant because of the type of drugs that the person was on. Which makes the pregnancy not only difficult, but perhaps dangerous to the health of the mother and dangerous and life-threatening to the health of the fetus."
A request for comment from Apotex was not immediately returned. A company spokesperson told Global News in April that Apotex would not comment on legal matters before the court.