Norminest Fe Oral Contraceptive (Family Planning Pills)

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.
Syntex laboratories, Inc. of Palo Alto, California, produced this Norminest Fe brand oral contraceptive between 1979 and 2008. The logo of the “blue lady” taking her pill adorned all U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) oral contraceptive packages that were distributed worldwide to family planning programs. Compared to other oral contraceptives of the time, these USAID pills are packaged very simply, lacking any kind of reusable container or memory aid. The "blue lady" packaging was introduced in the late 1960s in order to standardize packaging, provide three months supply in one package, and to provide adequate protection for the pills in tropical conditions.
This opened package contains two blister packs of 28 pills; 21 hormonal white pills and 7 brown iron supplement pills. The pills are arranged in a switchback pattern with arrows marking the correct order to take the pills.
Currently not on view
Object Name
contraceptive, oral
date made
before 1979-08
Syntex Laboratories, Inc.
Physical Description
norethindrone, 0.5 mg (drug (white tablet) active ingredients)
ferrous fumarate, 75 mg (drug (brown tablet) active ingredients)
ethinyl estradiol, 0.035 mg (drug (white tablet) active ingredients)
paper (packaging material)
plastic (packaging material)
overall: 11 cm x 14.5 cm x .6 cm; 4 11/32 in x 5 23/32 in x 1/4 in
overall: 4 3/8 in x 5 3/4 in x 1/4 in; 11.1125 cm x 14.605 cm x .635 cm
place made
United States: California, Palo Alto
ID Number
accession number
catalog 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
Additional Media

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