The British Columbia government has filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson Inc., claiming the maker of the "Ortho Evra" contraception patch “aggressively marketed the contraceptive without disclosing the safety hazards associated with Evra.”
The lawsuit claims that women using the patch “did not receive any warnings about the increased risk of developing blood clots, pulmonary emboli, strokes, heart attacks or deep vein thrombosis associated with Evra.”
The BC government is seeking to recover past and future health care costs associated with caring for women who develop serious and sometimes fatal illness as a result of using the dangerous hormonal contraceptive.
The patch delivers the hormones estrogen and progestin directly into the bloodstream through the skin, whereas oral contraceptives, which contain a similar amount of the drugs, must pass through the digestive system before being absorbed.
Health Canada approved the contraceptive in 2002, following approval by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2001.
The lawsuit claims that, although doctors reviewing the clinical trials of Evra before its approval recognized the potential for serious health problems from the use of the patch, Johnson & Johnson was negligent in providing adequate label warnings, failed to conduct long-term use risk studies, and failed to provide Health Canada with complete and accurate risk information.
Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical have faced a string of lawsuits since introducing the Ortho Evra patch.
In 2006, 43 US women sued the company, which was facing approximately 400 similar lawsuits, after suffering long-term debilitating effects from the patch.
At least 23 women have died from the use of this form of contraception, including an 18-year-old New York fashion student who collapsed in a city subway station. An autopsy on Zakiya Kennedy's body found a blood clot had moved into her lungs, and the medical examiner ruled that the clot was a side effect of the Evra birth control patch she was using.
Vancouver pharmacist and writer Cristina Alarcon told LifeSiteNews she is "ecstatic" to see the BC government take this action on behalf of women who are injured by the use of this product.
"I am ecstatic to see that perhaps our government is beginning to take women’s real healthcare needs more seriously," she said. "The history of artificial contraception was fraught with problems from its inception. Today, we continue to be used as guinea pigs for every new brand of synthetic contraceptive that hits the market."
Noting that in 2005 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the UN’s World Health Organization, classified hormonal contraceptives as Group 1 carcinogens for breast, cervical, and liver cancers, Alarcon observed that "the carcinogenic effects of the Pill are always downplayed for political and ideological reasons. The Pill is a huge money maker for Big Pharma."
"The Evra patch has problems, but then so does the current birth control pill," Alarcon concluded.
Contact: Thaddeus M. Baklinski
Date Published: October 7, 2010