Beijing Pharmaceutical 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.
The Beijing Pharmaceutical Factory in Beijing, China, produced these oral contraceptive pills around 1985. This box contains 50 bottles, with each bottle containing 22 pills. Manufacturers used 22 pill regimens in the belief that patient reliability was improved if each new cycle of tablets could begin and end on the same fixed day of the week. The box describes these as polypharmacy norgestrel pills, a combination of .3 mg of norgestrel with .03 mg of ethinyl estradiol. The label bears the crane logo of the manufacturer, and the blue stamped numbers to the crane’s left are the government approval marking.
Currently not on view
Object Name
contraceptive, oral
date made
Physical Description
cardboard (box material)
paper (label, inserts material)
plastic (vial material)
norethisterone (drug active ingredients)
overall: 3.8 cm x 14.2 cm x 7.5 cm; 1 1/2 in x 5 9/16 in x 2 15/16 in
overall, box: 1 3/4 in x 5 5/8 in x 3 1/4 in; 4.445 cm x 14.2875 cm x 8.255 cm
overall, bottle: 1 3/8 in x 1/2 in; x 3.4925 cm x 1.27 cm
place made
Zhonghua: Beijing Shi, Beijing
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 Kiehl's Inc.

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