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  • Manda Villarreal

History of Birth Control: Podcast

After announcing in class that I have decided to do my package re-design project on daily use birth control prescription packaging, 2 classmates suggested I listen to a podcast. Although not an avid podcast listener, I decided to give the podcast a listen, and it was actually really helpful and informative!

The podcast is called Repackaging the Pill by 99% Invisible, very fitting for what I'm trying to do in this project! I've linked the podcast incase anyone wanted to listen as well.

Basically, the podcast went over the start of birth control packaging in the 60's, and what issues came with this new form of prescription services.

Up until the creation of birth control, prescriptions were being used by sick people in order to get healthier/feel well again. Instead, birth control was a kind of prescription being used by healthy people, with it's only function being to deter a pregnancy, not necessarily to help the user get well or break through illness. This forever changed the world of pharmaceuticals and the potential uses for medicine.

This idea was reflected in the packaging itself, it was designed to look like an everyday product, not just medicine. Like the image above, one way it was designed was similar to a shell or make up compact, always doused in light shades of pink of course. Another, in the generic rectangular shape, one week for each row of pills. Before either of those options, the pills were stored like any other prescription, in one singular bottle. This typically method was problematic as users across the nation were frequently forgetting when/if they took their pill. This was when David Wagner redesigned birth control packaging as what we know of it today, clearly labeling week to week when to take the pill in order to keep track of the prescription cycle.

I also learned in the podcast that side effects listed came to fruition because of birth control. During the early years of birth control, many women were experiencing horrible side effects without their knowledge before hand, thus side effects listings were invented to insure liability when prescribing birth control.

Overall, the podcast was very useful from a historical stand point. It also reminded me of how well-known birth control packaging is, which means my redesign could really stand out if I wanted it to. Next step, refine my birth control packaging sketches and add in sustainability to my design.

- Manda V.

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