Now the trial lawyers are jumping on the bandwagon. I just happened to see an advertisement in the local newspaper by an attorney soliciting clients for his lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, the company that manufactures the Ortho Evra Patch.
It appears that a recent study showed that the incidence of blood clots relating to the Ortho Evra Patch was twice as a high as the “usual” rate found in oral contraceptives. Therefore the trial lawyers are all over Johnson & Johnson for this.
For the record, I have no connection with any trial lawyer regarding this lawsuit. Nor am I condoning this strategy. But when the lawyers get into it, blood usually follows.
I don’t know about the lawyer part of all this, but from the doctor’s perspective, ALL birth contol pills or patches carry significant risks. One of those known risks is (in my mind) an unacceptably high incidence of blood clots - whether taken as a pill or as a patch.
It gets worse. The newer generation birth control pills (BCP’s) have a much higher incidence of blood clots that the older versions from 20 - 30 years ago.
What kind of blood clots are we talking about? There are two main types of blood clots caused by BCP’s. The fancy name is “non-fatal thrombo-embolism” (NFTE), also known as deep venous thrombosis and what the rest of the world calls clots in the calves.
The other area of blood clots is found in the lungs, called a pulmonary embolus. Most likely the lung clot actually originated in the leg and flipped off the leg vein and travels through the venous system until it ends up literally stuck in the lung. This is very serious and people die from this.
Blood clots in the leg, though usually not fatal, are a significant hassle because it usually results in a hospitalization to prevent the clot from going to the lungs and then ending up treating with blood thinner medications for the next 9 - 12 months. Not to mention that once you get a blood clot from BCP’s, you can forget about using them for the rest of your life.
There is one other nasty clotting complication from BCP’s - strokes. This is on the arterial side and not from a vein clot. It really hits you whenever you see a 20-something year old woman using a walker from a stroke caused by her oral contraceptives that she used to take. Very sad.
As a specialist in migraine headaches, one of the major complaints I have against BCP’s is that they make migraines worse in the women that take them. Or they just cause migraines for the first time for those women.
When women who take the Pill finally figure out that their migraines were caused by it, or made worse by it, they discover they can’t get rid of the migraines even after stopping the Pill. This is where the Women’s Health Institute of Texas comes in as we have a treatment program that enables women to eliminate their migraines even if they have been exposed to BCP’s in the past.
Andrew Jones, M.D.
Medical Director, Women’s Health Institute of Texas