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Chile's government distributed faulty birth control pills. Now more than 150 people are pregnant.

April 6, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 24.6%. 3 min read.

In Chile, over 150 people say they have gotten pregnant while talking contraceptive pills manufactured by subsidiaries of a German pharmaceutical company.

Yet they -- and at least 170 other women at the time of writing -- share a common reality: they all claim to have fallen pregnant while taking Anulette CD, an oral contraceptive pill manufactured by Silesia, a subsidiary of the German pharmaceutical company, Grünenthal.

Without the option to legally terminate their pregnancies, if they wanted to, or any real accountability from the government or the drug companies, the women, represented by the Chilean sexual and reproductive rights group Corporación Miles, are preparing to file a class action lawsuit in the civil courts.

In a region where barriers to women's reproductive rights are the norm, CNN has identified a government health agency quick to shift the blame to these women, as well as a history of poor production quality and previous issues relating to oral contraceptives in Grünenthal's Chilean factory -- its gateway to Latin America.

In March 2020, after discovering an ovarian cyst her physician worried could have been caused by her contraceptive implant, Rojas's doctor at her local health clinic advised she take the pill instead, prescribing Anulette CD.

The first batch -- 139,160 packs of Anulette pills, according to its manufacturer -- were recalled on August 24, 2020 after healthcare workers at a rural healthcare clinic complained that they had identified 6 packets of defective pills.

In its online notice, published on August 29, the ISP said that the makers of Anulette CD, a company called Laboratorios Silesia S. A.

The Ministry of Health told CNN in an emailed statement that they informed the public health service "to inform users of this situation and take pertinent actions," and said that they provided support and counseling for reproductive health workers to support "women who may have been affected by problems in the quality of contraceptives. "

Seven days after Dragnic spoke to CNN, and six months after the first recall, the health authorities announced that Anulette's manufacturers had been charged a series of fines totalling approximately 66. 5m Chilean pesos (approximately USD $92,000).

But CNN has uncovered that production issues began soon after the factory opened, and have affected a range of oral contraceptives marketed not just by Silesia S. A. but also Grünenthal's other Chilean subsidiary, Andrómaco.

In 2018, Tinelle, a contraceptive pill from Silesia's portfolio, was voluntarily taken off the market after a decision to switch the sequence of the active and placebo tablets (keeping the same numbers of each but placing them in a different order) which -- by the Grunenthal spokesperson, Florian Dieckmann's admission -- "confused [patients] about the new sequence of the pills. " Dieckmann said that the pills were put back on the market after Silesia "further clarified the instruction on the aluminium foil on how to follow the right sequence of tablets. "

Two further oral contraceptives, Minigest 15 and 20, manufactured by Andrómaco at the Grünenthal Chilean plant, were recalled in October 2020 after the public health authority, the ISP, said that they were found during stability testing to contain an insufficient amount of the active ingredient: the hormones.

Based on a Freedom of Information request by Miles, which CNN then followed up on, the production of Anulette CD has had the most problems, according to the ISP's own records.

Aside from publishing details of the above recalls on its website, the ISP allegedly did little else to notify women, and despite its apparent challenges, Grünenthal remains the Chilean government's leading provider of oral contraceptives.

According to the ISP, 382,871 women are prescribed Anulette CD, and between May 2019 and January 2020, Grünenthal secured at least US $2. 2 million in contracts that CNN has seen.

According to the World Health Organization, the combined oral contraceptive pill every year results in less than 1 pregnancy in every 100, "with consistent and correct use. "

"Women say, 'I was on the pill, I still became pregnant -- why is that?' That's what's happened," he said, referencing the statistics.

Paula Avila Guillen, Executive Director at the New York Women's Equality Center, a not-for-profit that advocates for and monitors reproductive rights in Latin America, told CNN that if the recall was about bad meat, the entire country would have known immediately, and the product immediately taken off the market.

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