Ortho Evra - FAQs - FindLaw

Q: What is Ortho Evra?

Ortho Evra is a thin, flexible birth control patch applied to the lower abdomen, buttocks or upper body once a week. The Ortho Evra patch delivers a continuous flow of estrogen and progestin to prevent ovulation.  The patch is used for three weeks, and then stopped for one week to allow menstruation. Ortho Evra contains the same drugs as typical birth control pills. However, the way the drug is administered exposes women to much higher levels of estrogen.

Q: Is a birth control patch more dangerous than the pill?

Although the hormones in Ortho Evra are the same as those in birth control pills, the birth control patch delivers hormones directly into the blood stream, exposing women higher levels of estrogen. Increased exposure to estrogen may increase the risk of side effects. The dangerous and potentially life-threatening side effects of estrogen include blood clots, heart attack and stroke.

Q: What are the risks of using the Ortho Evra birth control patch?

The hormones in the Ortho Evra birth control patch are associated with a risk for developing blood clots.  Blood clots and blockage of blood vessels can cause death or serious disability. A blood clot may prevent blood from reaching its destination such as the heart or lungs. Using Ortho Evra may increase the risk of developing a stroke, blockage or rupture of blood vessels in the brain, and heart attack, blockage of blood vessels in the heart. Talk with your doctor about your risk.

Q: What Ortho Evra side effects should I watch for?

Indicators of a possible heart attack include severe chest pain or tightness in the chest. Signs of a blood clot in the lung include sharp chest pain, coughing up blood, or sudden shortness of breath. A clot in the leg may cause intense calf pain. Warning signs for a potential stroke are a sudden severe headache, vomiting, dizziness or fainting, a disturbance in vision or speech, and weakness or numbness in the arm or leg.

Q: What should I do if I am using Ortho Evra right now?

If you have experienced any indicators of blood clot or stroke, such as shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, numbness in a limb, or dizziness seek immediate medical attention. Otherwise, consult your doctor regarding the potential risks associated with the birth control patch.   

Q: What if I have experienced a blood clot or other injury while using the patch?

Assuming that you have received the necessary medical attention, you should contact an experienced product liability attorney to discuss your situation. You may have the right to compensation for your injury. Under product liability law, manufacturers have duty to ensure that their products are free from any dangerous defects. When they fail to do so, they can be held liable for any injuries that result.

Q: Is anything being done to protect women from the risks of using Ortho Evra?

Public organizations are warning women not to use the Ortho Evra birth control patch, including consumer watchdog group Public Citizen, which says that there is no reason to choose Ortho Evra over older, better understood, and equally effective oral contraceptives. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also taken action, and Ortho Evra will now bear a bold warning so that women will know that the birth control patch exposes them to about 60% more estrogen than the typical birth control pill.

Q: What does the new Ortho Evra warning label say?

In November of 2005, the Food and Drug Administration announced that Ortho Evra would carry a new label to warn users about the risks of the birth control patch when compared to the pill. The new label says, in part, "[h]ormones from patches applied to the skin get into the blood stream and are removed from the body differently than hormones from birth control pills taken by mouth. You will be exposed to about 60% more estrogen if you use Ortho Evra..."