C-Quens Oral Contraceptive

Description (Brief)
The popularity of “the Pill” created a new market for pharmaceutical companies. For the first time, healthy women would be taking medication for an extended period of time. Pill manufacturers developed unique packaging in order to distinguish their product from those of their competitors and build brand loyalty. Packaging design often incorporated a “memory aid” to assist women in tracking their daily pill regimen, as well as styled cases to allow pills to be discreetly carried in bags and purses. The National Museum of American History’s Division of Medicine and Science’s collection of oral contraceptives illustrates some of the changes that the packaging and marketing of the Pill underwent from its inception in 1960 to the present.
Eli Lilly and Company of Indianapolis, Indiana produced this C-Quens brand oral contraceptive around 1965. The paper package is folded matchbook-style with directions and blister pack inside. The pills are laid out to represent a calendar, with 15 white 80 mcg Mestranol tablets, and 5 peach colored tablets that are 80 mcg Mestranol with 2 mg of chlormadinone acetate.
The FDA approved C-Quens for marketing in May,1965. The pills were withdrawn from the market in October, 1970 after tests on dogs suggested that the synthetic progesterone used in the pills, chlormadinone acetate, may increase the risk of breast cancer.
Currently not on view
Object Name
pharmaceutical, dispenser of
contraceptive, oral
contraceptive, oral, professional sample
date made
ca 1965
Eli Lilly and Company
Physical Description
mestranol, 80 mcg (drug (white and peach tablets) active ingredients)
chlormadinone acetate, 2 mg (drug (peach tablets only) active ingredients)
cardboard (folder material)
plastic (blister pack material)
aluminum foil (blister pack material)
overall: .4 cm x 7.7 cm x 9.9 cm; 3/16 in x 3 1/16 in x 3 7/8 in
overall: 1/4 in x 3 in x 3 7/8 in; .635 cm x 7.62 cm x 9.8425 cm
place made
United States: Indiana, Indianapolis
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Birth Control/Contraception
Health & Medicine
Birth Control
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Birth Control
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Margaret Sanger Center
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

8/7/2014 9:37:15 PM
beverly white
I took these from 1965-1968. I had horrible migraine headaches for many, many years. I always wondered if these pills caused them.
1/24/2015 10:02:02 PM
Nancy Roberts
How many years were these pills manufactured?
6/30/2015 5:29:23 PM
Diane Wendt
Your question prompted me to do a little more digging to nail down the dates of Eli Lilly's C-Quens oral contraceptive. C-Quens was approved for marketing in May, 1965 and withdrawn from the market in October, 1970. C-Quens, along with Upjohn's Provest, were withdrawn after tests on dogs suggested that the pills increased the incidence of non-malignant breast tumors. Both of these brands used a form of synthetic progesterone not found in other contraceptive pills on the market.
9/16/2015 11:53:36 PM
L.G. Beckerman
Do these pills retain any of their efficacy? Physically, how long are the pills expected to last in a museum collection?
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