Less Alesse

Students forced to switch birth control brands due to a shortage of the popular Alesse pill

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

“I’m on Alesse.”

Most students are familiar with the advertisements featuring women claiming to be using the popular birth control pill Alesse, but some women who want to be on Alesse can’t, thanks to a nation-wide shortage.

With stock shortages in both the 21 and 28-size packages, pharmacies are forced to give out less packages at a time. In some cases, women are having to temporarily switch to other brands.

Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Alesse’s parent company, said in a statement that there is a “temporary delay in the availability of the product, resulting in intermittent supply over the last few months.

“The temporary delay was the result of unforeseen delays in the manufacturing process. The temporary situation does not affect the safety or efficacy of the product and supply currently available. We are working hard to resume full distribution as quickly as possible.”

Shafeek Roberts, head pharmacist at Western’s campus pharmacy, said there have been problems since late November and early December.

“We initially took precautions and ordered a large stock, but this is something we use a lot of, so it has diminished,” Roberts said. “To be fair to all users, we have been giving out only one pack at a time.”

Roberts said the pharmacy ran out of Alesse once this month, though it has since received more stock.

“Since January, they have been trying to increase production, but the representatives don’t really know what is going on,” he said. “The demand is so great that whatever gets pushed out gets picked up immediately.

“The doctors at [Student Health Services] were aware of the shortage and so they were writing prescriptions for other [birth control].”

Roberts said the shortage is unfortunate, since regular users become stable on the product and may suffer side effects if they must temporarily change brands.

For now, Roberts said women will have to wait and take the supply one month at a time.

“Who knows when it may stabilize? It may be next month, two months from now... We just don’t know when it will normalize.”

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