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Women sue the makers of birth-control patch

More than 40 sued, claiming the contraceptive caused serious illnesses and at least one death

Nov 2, 2006 | AP

More than 40 women sued the makers of a popular birth-control patch Wednesday, claiming the contraceptive caused serious illnesses and at least one death.

One lawsuit alleges that 43 women suffered from blood clots and other health ailments after taking Ortho Evra, one of the fastest-growing forms of contraception in the U.S.

A second complaint claims 25-year-old Kelly Bracken of Elk Ridge, Md., died of severe blood clots in her lungs and legs after she started wearing the patch.

The lawsuits, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, name as defendants the drug's manufacturer, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Co., a Titusville, N.J.-based subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson; and San Francisco-based distributor McKesson Corp.

Officials for Ortho-McNeil and McKesson did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2001, Ortho Evra is a patch that delivers the hormones estrogen and progestin directly into the bloodstream through the skin.

The lawsuit claims that Ortho-McNeil failed to properly investigate the product's safety and deceived the public about the severity of potential side effects, including strokes and severe blood clots.

In September, the FDA warned women that their risk of blood clots in the legs and lungs may be higher if they use Ortho Evra instead of the pill.

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