The FDA has issued a warning regarding the elevated risk of blood clots in a woman's legs and lungs from the Ortho Evra birth control patch.
The FDA claims the warning was issued based on the results of a single study that found women using the patch doubled their risk of blood clots compared to those taking the pill.
However, earlier reports have put the risk of these potentially fatal clots as actually being as much as three times higher than the risk from taking the pill. In 2004 alone, a dozen deaths were linked to the patch and many more to strokes and clots.
Johnson & Johnson is facing 500 claimants in lawsuits related to deaths and injuries caused by the patch. Legal analysts believe that these 500 claims are only the beginning, since thousands of women may have suffered from blood clots, heart attacks and strokes, but could be as yet unaware of the cause.
Johnson & Johnson is attempting to settle as many of the cases out of court as possible in an attempt to reduce media coverage of the problem, which so far has not been widely reported.
If the cases go to court, Johnson & Johnson is likely to lose many of them, as the victims are almost always young women with no prior history of heart trouble, so the birth control patch can be easily pinpointed as the cause of the problem.
In 2005, there were more than 9.4 million prescriptions written for the Ortho Evra patch.
About a month ago, I warned you about an avalanche of lawsuits filed in recent years against four drugs -- one of them being Johnson & Johnson's birth control patch Ortho Evra.
Unlike Merck's legal strategy of fighting Vioxx publicly and one case at a time, however, Johnson & Johnson has already settled a dozen lawsuits privately and approached attorneys representing other plaintiffs.
Johnson & Johnson is an expert at damage control and the way they handled cyanide-tampered Tylenol in the '80s is taught in a number of business schools as a top example of how to address negative PR. You should also know that Johnson & Johnson owns McNeil Nutritionals, which manufactures Splenda.
They are applying similar skills in the way they are quietly doing damage control to keep women in the dark about a product they should never use, particularly when there are safer birth control alternatives available, including:
Other natural methods to scientifically check your fertility also exist.
Additionally, any of the above methods can be combined with natural family planning, in which the woman charts her cycle by regularly monitoring her first morning oral temperatures with an accurate thermometer, and also checks her cervical mucous for appearance and "ferning" patterns.
If these two methods are combined, then their effectiveness approaches that of birth control pills.
Drugs are unnecessary for almost every illness, problem, or concern for which they are prescribed. It's not hard to understand why they still get prescribed anyway, however; the industries that make the drugs and medical technologies wish to continue to sell them. There are currently no plans to pull the Ortho Evra patch off the shelves despite the high risk.
If medicine instead focused on lifestyle changes like proper diet, regular exercise, and natural and barrier birth control, vast numbers of Americans would no longer need or want to purchase the drugs the pharmaceutical industry desperately wishes to continue to sell.