Ovulen-21 Oral Contraceptive

Ovulen-21 Oral Contraceptive

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
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.
Searle & Company produced this Ovulen brand oral contraceptive in San Juan, Puerto Rico, around 1978. The pills are contained in Searle’s trademarked Compack tablet dispenser. Inside the Compack is a 21-pill blister pack that organizes the monthly pill regimen into weekly rows, labeled by day of the week. A pink booklet with butterflies on the cover entitled “Birth Control... with ‘the Pill’” is included along with a paper insert with user information.
Currently not on view
Object Name
pharmaceutical, compact of
contraceptive, oral
Other Terms
pharmaceutical, compact of; Pharmaceutical; Contraceptive; Oral Contraceptive; Tablet; Tablet
date made
G. D. Searle and Company
place made
Puerto Rico: San Juan, San Juan
Physical Description
ethynodiol diacetate, 1 mg (drug active ingredients)
mestranol, 0.1 mg (drug active ingredients)
plastic (compact material)
aluminum (blister pack material)
paper (package insert material)
overall: 1.5 cm x 9.4 cm x 11.4 cm; 9/16 in x 3 11/16 in x 4 1/2 in
overall, as stored: 5/8 in x 3 3/4 in; 1.5875 cm x 9.525 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Gladys Abell and Lester D. Johnson, Jr., M.D.
Birth Control/Contraception
Women's Health
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Birth Control
Health & Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.

Note: Comment submission on our collection pages is temporarily unavailable. Please check back soon!

If you have a question or require a personal response, please visit our Museum Collection FAQ or contact page.