A pharmacy in Sudbury is offering free contraception and pregnancy tests to women who may have been affected by a birth control recall earlier this month.

The birth control drug Alysena-28 was recalled after it was discovered some packages may contain an extra week of placebo or sugar pills, rather than the contraceptive tablet, increasing the risk of pregnancy.

Both local pharmacies and the health unit have taken measures to help ease concerns.

While only the 28-pill packs have been recalled by Health Canada, Sudbury pharmacist Matthew King is also phoning patients who are using the 21-pill packs as a precautionary measure.

"There wasn't any formal recall that was announced with the 21-packs, but we also just wanted to inform all of our patients that we dispensed the medication to," he said about the people he serves at his downtown Shopper's Drug Mart pharmacy.

"Our pharmacy team is made aware as well, so they're inspecting each package thoroughly before it's being dispensed."

Recalls like this 'very rare'

King noted women on both the 28- and 21-day pill packs should have three rows of pink tablets. His pharmacy is offering free contraception and pregnancy tests for concerned patients and is also replacing all of the recalled packages of the Alysena-28 pills, free of charge.

"For all patients who are taking the Alysena, if they haven't been contacted by their pharmacist already, I would urge them to get in touch with their pharmacist," he said.

King added he hopes the free contraception and pregnancy tests will help ease women's worries.

"For a lot of patients this would be their primary means of contraception, so there are absolutely implications with this," he said. "But keep in mind that recalls of this nature are very, very rare."

Meanwhile, the Sudbury and District Health Unit says it usually prescribes Alesse to women, but that they are sometimes given Alysena, the generic form of the drug

"We did identify that about 112 people would have been given a prescription to take to the pharmacy," said Gisele L-Sbrega, who manages the organization's sexual health clinic. "Four patients were affected by the recall."

The health unit said women can also make free appointments with one of their nurse practitioners if they're concerned about the recall.