After her son was born in 2002, Angela went on the Ortho Evra patch. She stayed on it until late summer, 2005 when she started having abdominal pains. Thinking she had a digestive problem, Angela saw a gastroenterologist and underwent all kinds of tests. She changed her diet constantly and took different medications but the pain was still there. "It would go away for a while then come back again - this went on for several months and caused a lot of concern," said Angela.
On January 3rd, 2005 Angela's abdominal pains got so severe that she was rushed to the emergency ward. The pains had lasted four hours and weren't letting up. "It was like someone was punching me in the ribs and I was sure that I would have massive bruising in that area," she said. Angela immediately had a CAT Scan and doctors discovered blood clots attacking her spleen, kidney and liver.
"I was both shocked and terrified; I had never been in hospital except when I gave birth," she said. Angela spent the next nine days in hospital where she had a battery of tests, "just about every kind of test imaginable." She was on an IV and also given blood thinners to break up the clots.
"Not long after I was given Coumadin the pain subsided, just like that. The doctors told me that part of my spleen had 'dead spots' where prior infarctions - or blood clots - had attacked my spleen previously. This must have accounted for the pains I was having for so long. I was on pain killers for about three weeks after leaving the hospital and about one week later I felt well enough to go back to work.
Although I feel much better today, I have to stay on Coumadin for the rest of my life and I'm definitely not happy with this. I have to take 12 mg per day, quite a high dosage. For someone who has never taken any medications, this is troublesome. And since this episode, I get really cold and tire easily.
This is want I want to tell the manufacturers of Ortho Evra: before a product is put on the market, there should be long term testing. From this experience, I will never take anything that hasn't been on the pharmacy shelf for at least five years. This product, just like anything, should have been tested to show long-term effects.
In a lawsuit I would like to see Johnson & Johnson recognize what they did and to change the way they market all pharmaceutical products. Financially, I want to see them cover everyone's medical bills -- at the very least. I'm one of the lucky ones because I didn't suffer anything life threatening. But for others with health complications, whatever is needed to take care of them should be the responsibility of the drug company. I am still paying medical bills for my tests. I have medical insurance but it doesn't cover everything. I work for the government so my insurance is pretty good - I only have to pay another $500 but for others without coverage, they could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars. Some women have lost everything, even their lives.