Jeremy A./Motherboard

Expired Emergency Contraception Is Being Sold On Amazon

As if the utter panic of getting pregnant after a one-night stand wasn't bad enough, the reason to panic just got a little bit worse.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post indicated that Plan B One-Step® was sold on Amazon, but it was actually Opcicon One-Step, which is a generic form of the morning after pill. See here if you're wondering where you can safely purchase Plan B One-Step®.

On Tuesday, May 2, Amazon also provided Motherboard with the following statement regarding the news:

Customer safety is our highest priority. We monitor the products sold on our website for product safety concerns, and when appropriate, we remove a product from the website, reach out to sellers, manufacturers and government agencies for additional information to take the necessary actions. If customers have concerns on items they've purchased we encourage them to contact our Customer Service directly and work with us so we can investigate and take appropriate action.

It seems a vendor on Amazon is selling a generic form of emergency contraception pills, Opcicon One-Step, which you'd think would be a super convenient way to make sure you're prepared for an emergency.

The only catch is, the pills are actually well past their expiration dates.

Jeremy, a 25-year-old pharmacy technician (who was previously an EMT), spoke to Sarah Kramer for Motherboard, revealing he discovered this after ordering the emergency contraceptive in bulk right before Donald Trump's inauguration, fearing the new administration would make it increasingly difficult to purchase things like emergency contraception.

Jeremy A./Motherboard

He said, "I bought it because I was concerned that the new Republican administration would make this type of medication harder to obtain for those who need it."

Once Jeremy received the order, Jeremy checked the pills' packaging for an expiration date, but it appeared the date had been removed from every single box he ordered. And Jeremy even found the same was true for his friends who had ordered the pill.

Jeremy A./Motherboard

After contacting the pill's creator, the maker told Jeremy to check the foil covering of the pill, just under its cardboard packaging. Jeremy then found that the foil was printed with an expiration date of July 2016, which was well before Jeremy had even ordered the pills.

Jeremy A./Motherboard

Following this discovery, Jeremy contacted Amazon, whose policy prohibits the sale of expired medication.

Despite giving Jeremy a refund and removing the product from the online store, Amazon has apparently failed to reach out to any other purchasers of the faulty contraceptive to inform them of the expiration date issue.

It seems other Amazon users also ran into the same problem with the vendor.

Amazon

One user said, "I have no way to [sic] telling the age or expected efficacy of the medication received."

Amazon

As this commenter noted, it seems the expiration date was removed by the vendor, rather than failing to be printed on the packaging.

Amazon

While you may not think taking an expired pill is all that bad, the potential consequences go a bit deeper than old medicine.

Dr. Lama Tolaymat, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist, tells Elite Daily why taking emergency contraception past its expiration date is dangerous:

My fear is that expired medications of any type may be ineffective and unable to do what they are prescribed to do. In the case of [emergency contraception pills], the expired medication may not prevent pregnancy, and therefore, now the woman is pregnant and took medication contraindicated. (Birth control pills are contraindicated in pregnancy.)

So basically, an expired pill won't effectively prevent a pregnancy. So if the woman did actually get pregnant from unprotected sex, she's now consumed medication that isn't advised during pregnancy.

Dr. Jennifer Gunter, a San Francisco-based gynecologist and blogger, also explained to Motherboard,

My issue with this is if a box is tampered with in any way, never ever use the medication. Ever. Tampering with medications is illegal and unethical and if they have tampered with one thing, what else have they tampered with? Do not buy medications from untrustworthy people! How do you know if it is counterfeit?

Fortunately, Jeremy has also contacted the FDA, who seems to be taking the matter seriously, even showing up to examine the packets of pills Jeremy received.

Ladies (and gentlemen buying these pills for the ladies), proceed with caution when ordering emergency contraception from anywhere other than a pharmacy and give yourself one less reason to panic.

Citations: Amazon Vendors Are Selling Expired Plan B (Motherboard)