Drug Information for Junel ™ 21 Day (norethindrone acetate and ethinyl estradiol tablets, USP) Junel ™ Fe28 Day (norethindrone acetate and ethinyl estradiol tablets, USP and ferrous fumarate tablets*)*Ferrous fumarate tablets are not USP for dissolution and assay. (BARR LABORATORIES, INC.): DETAILED PATIENT PACKAGE INSERT

  • What You Should Know About Oral Contraceptives:

    Any woman who considers using oral contraceptives (the “birth control pills” or “the pill”) should understand the benefits and risks of using this form of birth control. This leaflet will give you much of the information you will need to make this decision and will also help you determine if you are at risk of developing any of the serious side effects of the pill. It will tell you how to use the pill properly so that it will be as effective as possible. However, this leaflet is not a replacement for a careful discussion between you and your health care provider. You should discuss the information provided in this leaflet with him or her, both when you first start taking the pill and during your revisits. You should also follow your health care provider's advice with regard to regular check-ups while you are on the pill.


    Oral contraceptives or “birth control pills” or “the pill” are used to prevent pregnancy and are more effective than other non-surgical methods of birth control. When they are taken correctly, the chance of becoming pregnant is less than 1% (1 pregnancy per 100 women per year of use) when used perfectly, without missing any pills. Typical failure rates are actually 3% per year. The chance of becoming pregnant increases with each missed pill during a menstrual cycle.

    In comparison, typical failure rates for other methods of birth control during the first year of use are as follows:

    Implant: <1% Male sterilization: <1%
    Injection: < 1% Cervical Cap: 20 to 40%
    IUD: <1 to 2% Condom alone (male): 14%
    Diaphragm with spermicides: 20% Condom alone (female): 21%
    Spermicides alone: 26% Periodic abstinence: 25%
    Vaginal Sponge: 20 to 40% Withdrawal: 19%
    Female sterilization: <1% No method: 85%


  • Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious cardiovascular side effects from oral contraceptive use. This risk increases with age and with heavy smoking (15 or more cigarettes per day) and is quite marked in women over 35 years of age. Women who use oral contraceptives are strongly advised not to smoke.

  • Some women should not use the pill. For example, you should not take the pill if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.

    You should also not use the pill if you have any of the following conditions:

    • A history of heart attack or stroke
    • Blood clots in the legs (thrombophlebitis), lungs (pulmonary embolism), or eyes
    • A history of blood clots in the deep veins of your legs
    • Chest pain (angina pectoris)
    • Known or suspected breast cancer or cancer of the lining of the uterus, cervix, or vagina
    • Unexplained vaginal bleeding (until a diagnosis is reached by your doctor)
    • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes or of the skin (jaundice) during pregnancy or during previous use of the pill
    • Liver tumor (benign or cancerous)
    • Known or suspected pregnancy

    Tell your health care provider if you have ever had any of these conditions. Your health care provider can recommend a safer method of birth control.


    Tell your health care provider if you have:

    • Breast nodules, fibrocystic disease of the breast, an abnormal breast x-ray or mammogram
    • Diabetes
    • Elevated cholesterol or triglycerides
    • High blood pressure
    • Migraine or other headaches or epilepsy
    • Mental depression
    • Gallbladder, heart or kidney disease
    • History of scanty or irregular menstrual periods

    Women with any of these conditions should be checked often by their health care provider if they choose to use oral contraceptives.

    Also, be sure to inform your doctor or health care provider if you smoke or are on any medications.


    • Risk of Developing Blood Clots:Blood clots and blockage of blood vessels are the most serious side effects of taking oral contraceptives; in particular, a clot in the legs can cause thrombophlebitis, and a clot that travels to the lungs can cause a sudden blocking of the vessel carrying blood to the lungs. Rarely, clots occur in the blood vessels of the eye and may cause blindness, double vision, or impaired vision.If you take oral contraceptives and need elective surgery, need to stay in bed for a prolonged illness, or have recently delivered a baby, you may be at risk of developing blood clots. You should consult your doctor about stopping oral contraceptives three to four weeks before surgery and not taking oral contraceptives for two weeks after surgery or during bed rest. You should also not take oral contraceptives soon after delivery of a baby. It is advisable to wait for at least four weeks after delivery if you are not breast feeding. If you are breast feeding, you should wait until you have weaned your child before using the pill. (See also the section on Breast Feeding in GENERAL PRECAUTIONS.)
    • Heart Attacks and Strokes:Oral contraceptives may increase the tendency to develop strokes (stoppage or rupture of blood vessels in the brain) and angina pectoris and heart attacks (blockage of blood vessels in the heart). Any of these conditions can cause death or disability.Smoking greatly increases the possibility of suffering heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, smoking and the use of oral contraceptives greatly increase the chances of developing and dying of heart disease.
    • Gallbladder Disease:Oral contraceptive users probably have a greater risk than nonusers of having gallbladder disease, although this risk may be related to pills containing high doses of estrogens.
    • Liver Tumors:In rare cases, oral contraceptives can cause benign but dangerous liver tumors. These benign liver tumors can rupture and cause fatal internal bleeding. In addition, a possible but not definite association has been found with the pill and liver cancers in two studies, in which a few women who developed these very rare cancers were found to have used oral contraceptives for long periods. However, liver cancers are extremely rare. The chance of developing liver cancer from using the pill is thus even rarer.
    • Cancer of the Reproductive Organs and Breasts:There is, at present, no confirmed evidence that oral contraceptive use increases the risk of developing cancer of the reproductive organs. Studies to date of women taking the pill have reported conflicting findings on whether pill use increases the risk of developing cancer of the breast or cervix. Most of the studies on breast cancer and pill use have found no overall increase in the risk of developing breast cancer, although some studies have reported an increased risk of developing breast cancer in certain groups of women. Women who use oral contraceptives and have a strong family history of breast cancer or who have breast nodules or abnormal mammograms should be closely followed by their doctors.Some studies have found an increase in the incidence of cancer of the cervix in women who use oral contraceptives. However, this finding may be related to factors other than the use of oral contraceptives.


    All methods of birth control and pregnancy are associated with a risk of developing certain diseases which may lead to disability or death.

    An estimate of the number of deaths associated with different methods of birth control and pregnancy has been calculated and is shown in the following table.

    Method of control and outcome 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44
    No fertility control methodsDeaths are birth related. 7.0 7.4 9.1 14.8 25.7 28.2
    Oral contraceptives non-smokerDeaths are method related. 0.3 0.5 0.9 1.9 13.8 31.6
    Oral contraceptives smoker 2.2 3.4 6.6 13.5 51.1 117.2
    IUD 0.8 0.8 1.0 1.0 1.4 1.4
    Condom 1.1 1.6 0.7 0.2 0.3 0.4
    Diaphragm/spermicide 1.9 1.2 1.2 1.3 2.2 2.8
    Periodic abstinence 2.5 1.6 1.6 1.7 2.9 3.6

    In the above table, the risk of death from any birth control method is less than the risk of childbirth, except for oral contraceptive users over the age of 35 who smoke and pill users over the age of 40 even if they do not smoke. It can be seen in the table that for women aged 15 to 39, the risk of death was highest with pregnancy (7-26 deaths per 100,000 women, depending on age). Among pill users who do not smoke, the risk of death was always lower than that associated with pregnancy for any age group, although over the age of 40, the risk increases to 32 deaths per 100,000 women, compared to 28 associated with pregnancy at that age. However, for pill users who smoke and are over the age of 35, the estimated number of deaths exceeds those for other methods of birth control. If a woman is over the age of 40 and smokes, her estimated risk of death is four times higher (117/100,000 women) than the estimated risk associated with pregnancy (28/100,000 women) in that age group.

    The suggestion that women over 40 who don't smoke should not take oral contraceptives is based on information from older high-dose pills and on less selective use of pills than is practiced today. An Advisory Committee of the FDA discussed this issue in 1989 and recommended that the benefits of oral contraceptive use by healthy, non-smoking women over 40 years of age may outweigh the possible risks. However, all women, especially older women, are cautioned to use the lowest dose pill that is effective.


    If any of these adverse effects occur while you are taking oral contraceptives, call your doctor immediately:

    • Sharp chest pain, coughing of blood, or sudden shortness of breath (indicating a possible clot in the lung)
    • Pain in the calf (indicating a possible clot in the leg)
    • Crushing chest pain or heaviness in the chest (indicating a possible heart attack)
    • Sudden severe headache or vomiting, dizziness or fainting, disturbances of vision or speech, weakness, or numbness in an arm or leg (indicating a possible stroke)
    • Sudden partial or complete loss of vision (indicating a possible clot in the eye)
    • Breast lumps (indicating possible breast cancer or fibrocystic disease of the breast; ask your doctor or health care provider to show you how to examine your breasts)
    • Severe pain or tenderness in the stomach area (indicating a possibly ruptured liver tumor)
    • Difficulty in sleeping, weakness, lack of energy, fatigue, or change in mood (possibly indicating severe depression)
    • Jaundice or a yellowing of the skin or eyeballs, accompanied frequently by fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, dark colored urine, or light colored bowel movements (indicating possible liver problems)


    • Vaginal Bleeding:Irregular vaginal bleeding or spotting may occur while you are taking the pills. Irregular bleeding may vary from slight staining between menstrual periods to breakthrough bleeding which is a flow much like a regular period. Irregular bleeding occurs most often during the first few months of oral contraceptive use, but may also occur after you have been taking the pill for some time. Such bleeding may be temporary and usually does not indicate serious problems. It is important to continue taking your pills on schedule. If the bleeding occurs in more than one cycle or lasts for more than a few days, talk to your doctor or health care provider.
    • Contact Lenses:If you wear contact lenses and notice a change in vision or an inability to wear your lenses, contact your doctor or health care provider.
    • Fluid Retention:Oral contraceptives may cause edema (fluid retention) with swelling of the fingers or ankles and may raise your blood pressure. If you experience fluid retention, contact your doctor or health care provider.
    • Melasma:A spotty darkening of the skin is possible, particularly of the face.
    • Other Side Effects:Other side effects may include change in appetite, headache, nervousness, depression, dizziness, loss of scalp hair, rash, and vaginal infections.

    If any of these side effects bother you, call your doctor or health care provider.


    • Missed Periods and Use of Oral Contraceptives Before or During Early Pregnancy:There may be times when you may not menstruate regularly after you have completed taking a cycle of pills. If you have taken your pills regularly and miss one menstrual period, continue taking your pills for the next cycle but be sure to inform your health care provider before doing so. If you have not taken the pills daily as instructed and missed a menstrual period, or if you missed two consecutive menstrual periods, you may be pregnant. Check with your health care provider immediately to determine whether you are pregnant. Do not continue to take oral contraceptives until you are sure you are not pregnant, but continue to use another method of contraception.There is no conclusive evidence that oral contraceptive use is associated with an increase in birth defects, when taken inadvertently during early pregnancy. Previously, a few studies had reported that oral contraceptives might be associated with birth defects, but these studies have not been confirmed. Nevertheless, oral contraceptives or any other drugs should not be used during pregnancy unless clearly necessary and prescribed by your doctor. You should check with your doctor about risks to your unborn child of any medication taken during pregnancy.
    • While Breast Feeding:If you are breast feeding, consult your doctor before starting oral contraceptives. Some of the drug will be passed on to the child in the milk. A few adverse effects on the child have been reported, including yellowing of the skin (jaundice) and breast enlargement. In addition, oral contraceptives may decrease the amount and quality of your milk. If possible, do not use oral contraceptives while breast feeding. You should use another method of contraception since breast feeding provides only partial protection from becoming pregnant, and this partial protection decreases significantly as you breast feed for longer periods of time. You should consider starting oral contraceptives only after you have weaned your child completely.
    • Laboratory Tests:If you are scheduled for any laboratory tests, tell your doctor you are taking birth control pills. Certain blood tests may be affected by birth control pills.
    • Drug Interactions:Certain drugs may interact with birth control pills to make them less effective in preventing pregnancy or cause an increase in breakthrough bleeding. Such drugs include rifampin; drugs used for epilepsy such as barbiturates (for example, phenobarbital), carbamazepine, and phenytoin (Dilantin® is one brand of this drug); troglitazone; phenylbutazone; and possibly certain antibiotics. You may need to use additional contraception when you take drugs which can make oral contraceptives less effective.Birth control pills interact with certain drugs. These drugs include acetaminophen, clofibric acid, cyclosporine, morphine, prednisolone, salicylic acid, temazepam, and theophylline. You should tell your doctor if you are taking any of these medications.
    • This product (like all oral contraceptives) is intended to prevent pregnancy. It does not protect against transmission of HIV (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, and syphilis.


    The Junel ™tablet dispenser has been designed to make oral contraceptive dosing as easy and as convenient as possible. The tablets are arranged in either three or four rows of seven tablets each, with the days of the week appearing on the tablet dispenser above the first row of tablets.

    If your tablet dispenser contains: You are taking:
    21 light yellow tablets Junel 21 1/20
    21 pink tablets Junel 21 1.5/30
    21 light yellow tablets and 7 brown tablets Junel Fe 1/20
    21 pink tablets and 7 brown tablets Junel Fe 1.5/30

    Each light yellow tablet contains 1 mg norethindrone acetate and 20 mcg ethinyl estradiol.

    Each pink tablet contains 1.5 mg norethindrone acetate and 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol.

    Each brown tablet contains 75 mg ferrous fumarate, and is intended to help you remember to take the tablets correctly. These brown tablets are not intended to have any health benefit.


    To remove a tablet, press down on it with your thumb or finger. The tablet will drop through the back of the tablet dispenser. Do not press on the tablet with your thumbnail, fingernail, or any other sharp object.