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Ortho Evra Patch: Lucky to be Alive

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"I am very angry, I could have died from taking the Ortho-Evra [birth control] patch and some women have. I am so healthy and normal and I have never smoked. This shouldn't have happened to me."

Anna Scott (not her real name pending instructions from the law firm she retained through this website) from Virginia had been on the Ortho Evra patch for about 3-4 weeks to regulate her periods. She went through her cycle and after a few days, instead of starting her period, she started to have chest pains.

"At first I thought it was bad indigestion. But the pain got worse and I couldn't figure out what it could be; heart disease doesn't run in my family," says Anna.

"It hurt to breathe and it felt like knives piercing my chest. I couldn't take a deep breath. My husband was out at the driving range so all I could do was sit and wait. I didn't want to call 911 and leave my three kids by themselves, but I was scared that he wouldn't come home in time.

On the drive to the hospital the pain got so intense my husband thought we wouldn't get there fast enough - should he run the red light?

At the hospital they took me immediately because they were concerned that I was having a heart attack. I had a CAT Scan that was so painful because I had to lie flat on my back with my hands over my head. It only took 10 minutes but it seemed like forever.

The tests came back positive for blood clots and the scan showed where they were located - they told me that I had pulmonary embolism - I had blood clots in both lungs.

They put me on Coumadin - a blood thinner - right away, and monitored me closely. I was in hospital for three days. Gradually the pain subsided as the clots were breaking down. But as the clots were moving, they would travel down smaller vessels and it felt like I was having another attack. I could feel them moving around my chest.

The doctors were trying to figure out what caused me to have the blood clots. The day before I went to emergency I had been on an airplane - just a short trip for a business meeting. At first they thought this might have been the reason but the flight wasn't long enough to cause blood clots.

Then I told them I was on a birth control patch. At this time, people weren't aware of the implications, how dangerous it was. This happened in April, 2005 when I was 40 years old. They determined that the blood clots were indeed from being on the Ortho Evra patch.

I wasn't going to put that back on! (It was the week that I had it off.) For the next three months I had to go back to the clinic at the hospital every Monday morning for blood work. Then I had to go back once a month for the next four months. I hated it. This was such a huge inconvenience; it really interfered with my job.

And I had to be very careful with my diet. You have to limit vitamin K intake. Every time my levels were elevated, someone from the clinic would call and ask if I had been eating salad - the opposite of what you think you should be doing. I could have been eating junk food to my heart's content, but no salad or broccoli.

I think that the drug company was so excited about getting this product on the market that they hid or withheld information regarding the dangers of the patch. They must have known something was amiss but they ignored it. I heard that some doctors working with the FDA had put up some red flags but they were ignored by the drug company.

My gynecologist didn't know anything about side effects of the patch and she was so shocked when I went back to see her, about one month after I got out of the hospital. She recommended that I see a hematologist, a blood specialist, so I had additional tests to make sure there was no genetic disposition.

This was in April, 2005 and the first FDA warning came out a few months later. She had given me a sample that she had in the office. I don't think my gynecologist will be giving samples to anyone else. I heard that there is now a warning issued to doctors: if they put anyone on the patch they could be libel for negligence!

I want the Ortho Evra patch taken off the market immediately. I am in the insurance industry and I spoke to a client a few months ago - she told me that she was on the patch. I briefly told her my story and how dangerous the patch is. I told her even at the risk of her getting angry at me because it is none of my business. And it could have cost me my job because I discussed a medical issue with her and this is personal information.

After this happened to me, I was talking to my sister. She is 30 and is in a wheel chair, she has MS and was also on the patch. I didn't know it until I told her what happened to me. She could have died! Because of her inactivity, it would have been easy for blood clots to form in her legs.

I think it was greed on the part of the manufacturer. And they were so irresponsible with the information they had. When I was in the hospital, I told the nurses that I was too young and healthy to be there, and could I just get up and go home. I had no idea at the time, the severity of my situation. I certainly didn't appreciate how lucky I was to have got to the hospital on time. Especially after reading stories about other women less fortunate.

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