Production problems lead to birth control pills shortage

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WyethTwo popular brands of birth control pills are in short supply across Canada, leaving many women scrambling to fill their prescriptions.

The pills — under the Alesse and Triphasil names — are made by the U.S. company Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. The company temporarily stopped production of the two brands in August, which means some pharmacies have run out, making refills almost impossible to get.

In Moncton, N.B., Ford's is one of the lucky pharmacies that still has a reserve stock. Pharmacist Anne-Marie Ford says she has enough to last the next couple of weeks. After that, her patients are out of luck.

"I know there are some stores that are totally out," said Ford. "We did contact the wholesalers and the wholesalers are all out, as is the manufacturer."

Alesse and Triphasil are two of the most popular brands of birth control, and you don't have to look hard to find women taking them.

Production problems behind shortage

Wyeth Pharmaceuticals has temporarily stopped production of Alesse and Triphasil birth control pills, which are now in short supply across Canada.

Moncton resident Elaine Arsenault has been on Alesse since she was 14, and only has enough pills to last a week.

"I'm not going to be able to have any more Alesse, so I need to ask my doctor what I'm going to do now," she said.

The company announced in August that it had stopped production of the pills, and Wyeth Canada's communications manager, Della Rollins, said Tuesday that both products are on "temporary back order.

"The situation is the result of unforeseen issues at our manufacturing facilities and will temporarily limit Wyeth Canada’s ability to move product into the Canadian market," Rollins wrote in an e-mail to CBC News.

"We are working hard to make Alesse and Triphasil available to Canadian patients as soon as possible."

Given the shortage, Ford is limiting the amount of prescriptions she will fill per customer.

"We want to make sure that patients have enough obviously to get them through. If they typically get three months supply at a time, then we would give them one month's supply at a time just to be able to maintain our stock for the people who don't have any at all."

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