Marvelon 28 birth control pills missing day label stickers, Health Canada says

Some lots of Marvelon 28 birth control tablets do not contain day-of-the-week label stickers that women may use to help them remember if they took their daily pill, Health Canada says.

"This issue does not impact the safety or effectiveness of the pills. Canadians should continue to take their medication as prescribed. It is important to keep track of when you take your pills to avoid missing any doses," Health Canada said in an advisory on Tuesday.

Without the stickers, there may be an increased chance of missing a dose. 

The stickers show the first day of the week when the medication is started, and the weekdays that the pills should be taken.

Merck Canada Inc., the importer of Marvelon 28, said it apologizes for the situation. In a statement, the company said it will deliver day-of-the-week label stickers to Canadian retail pharmacies beginning the week of Sept. 10 and to clinics that have received samples starting the week of Sept. 17.

The company recommended that health-care professionals proactively mention the missing day-of-the-week label stickers to their patients when prescribing or dispensing the product (desogestrel/ethinyl estradiol).

The day-of-the-week label is a sticker that can be applied on the blister pack, indicating the first day of the week when the medication is started. It helps patient track tablet intake, Merck Canada says. (Merck Canada)

Health Canada said the advisory applies to six lots of Marvelon 28 birth control pills with the Drug Information Number 02042479 with expiry dates ranging from Oct. 31, 2019, to March 31, 2021.

"There is no need to return Marvelon 28 products that you currently have, since this issue does not impact the efficacy or safety of the tablet itself if taken as prescribed. Note that Marvelon 21 is not affected by this situation."

Other ways to track intake 

Health Canada also had these suggestions for consumers who have a package of Marvelon 28 that does not include a day-of-the-week sticker: 

  • Keep track of your daily pill intake and consider using ways to remind yourself to take them, such as a daily alarm on a cellphone.
  • Go to your pharmacy to request day-of-the week stickers.
  • Alternatively, contact Merck Canada Inc. directly at 1-800-567-2594 ext. 3, or by email at medinfocanada@merck.com, to request day-of-the-week stickers.
  • Talk to a health-care professional if you have questions or concerns about your birth control product, including about missed doses. 
  • Report adverse events related to health products to Health Canada by calling toll-free at 1‑866‑234‑2345, or by reporting online, by mail or by fax. 

Merck Canada said generic alternatives to Marvelon 28 are also available and do contain day-of-the-week label stickers. The company said patients can be counselled to use a calendar to keep track of their tablet intake. 

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