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Ortho Evra Health Risks - VP Claims J&J Knew

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Los Angeles, CAThe dangers of Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) controversial birth control patch, Ortho Evra, may have been known by the drug maker years ago, according to an investigative report by NBC News.

Data from patient reports between 2002 and 2004 show a 12 percent increased risk for stroke and an 18 percent increased risk for blood clots associated with Ortho Evra, compared with the conventional birth control pill, journalists for NBC's Today Show reported Wednesday.

Ortho Evra was introduced to the market in 2002, and was immediately hailed as a breakthrough in birth control. Since its launch, roughly 40 million prescriptions have been written for the "patch." However, as more women began using it, an increase in associated claims of injury and death became evident.

The adverse event data for Ortho Evra was reportedly so compelling that in 2005, Johnson & Johnson Vice President Dr. Patrick Caubel suddenly quit. NBC News has obtained a copy of his resignation letter, which apparently states "I have been involved in the safety evaluation of Ortho Evra since its introduction on the market. … The estrogenic exposure [of the patch] was unusually high, as was the rate of fatalities." And he notes, the data provide "compelling evidence" which J&J ignored. "It became impossible for me to stay in my position as VP," he wrote.

Furthermore, NBC is also reporting that another J&J vice president, Dr. Joel Lippman, is suing the company for wrongful termination, alleging that he was let go after he blew the whistle on the health dangers associated with the patch.

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