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Friday, November 11, 2005

The hormonal Patch, Ortho Evra" what TIME magazine called one of the "Coolest Inventions of 2002."

Lively discussions going on at Em's post A Hard Pill To Swallow, about why the birth control pill has been abandoned by former users. The question was raised: if we object to The Pill, why don't we support the "better" alternative contraception choices, especially newer ones like Depo-Provera, the Patch and Norplant. Rather than leave it buried in the combox, I thought it worth putting into (what was to be) a short post to make sure it's more accessible to our readers.


Here's just the scientific reasons why these are not really "better things."

1. "FDA records, obtained by The [New York] Post under the Freedom of Information law, show that 17 patch users, ages 17 to 30, suffered fatal heart attacks, blood clots…"

"The patch" has a name: Ortho Evra. It contains progestin, a slightly different one than in Depo-Provera, the mini-pill and NorPlant, but they all work the same. Ortho Evra also contains estrogen, so it's also like the Birth Control Pill and the Morning After Pill.

2. The Mini-pill is labeled Depo, NorPlant or Micronor. This is Dec. 16, 2003 testimony by the FDA's Charles J. Lockwood, M.D., ACRHD (he's on the committee deciding whether to approve the Morning After Pill for over the counter use), and Chair of OB-GYN at Yale New Haven Hospital and at Yale University's OB-GYN-Reproductive Drugs Department:
"DR. LOCKWOOD: I don't want to use up my question, but I want to help answer his question because my NIH [National Institues of Health] grants are on this topic. So I have some knowledge of this area.

"Depo-Provera and the implantables, particularly Depo, are associated with a higher rate of osteoporosis, and most of these women develop abnormal uterine bleeding. There's about a 15 pound weight gain on average after use, and there's a higher rate of depression [emphasis this author's]. So those are the long-term consequences."
3. Studies in prestigious journals like the Journal of the AMA (JAMA) in 1995, pooling several studies together, showed that breast cancer risk is almost tripled for women who used Depo-Provera for 2 years or more when they were younger than 25 years old. [Skegg, D.C.G. Noonan E.A., et. al. Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate and breast cancer. JAMA. 1995:799-804.]

4. In Sept. 2004, the papers reported:
Depo-Provera...has a significant downside: It reduces bone-protecting estrogen. In a recent study of women ages 18- 39, Depo-Provera users lost bone at the hips at a rate of 1.1% a year, compared with 0.05% for non-users.
That's 22 times more bone loss per every year we're on it. But if you stop using Depo-Provera, you can reverse the damage.

5. Since Norplant uses the same type of chemical as Depo-Provera, it could easily pose a similar risk.

6. UPDATE:Birth Control Patch Users Warned (that should read, "Again"):
The Food and Drug Administration warned users of the popular Ortho Evra birth control patch that they are being exposed to more hormones, and are therefore at higher risk of blood clots and other serious side effects, than previously disclosed.

Until now, regulators and patch-maker Ortho McNeil, a Johnson and Johnson subsidiary, had maintained the patch was expected to be associated with similar risks as the birth control pill. But a strongly worded warning was added to the patch label Thursday that says women using the patch will be exposed to about 60 percent more estrogen than those using typical birth control pills.

"I wish I had known. It's quite likely I would never have used it," said Jennifer Cowperthwaite, 26, of Broad Brook, Conn., who still suffers breathing problems after a blood clot reached her lungs two years ago after she used the patch.

...Erika Klein's sister Kathleen Thoren died a year ago from blood clots in her brain that the coroner said were brought on by Ortho Evra. [Emphasis this author's]

...In September [2004], Public Citizen's Health Research Group, a consumer advocacy organization, added Ortho Evra to its ongoing list of dangerous medicines...

...women using the patch have much higher levels of estrogen in their bodies...New published studies show that women using the patch absorb about 50 percent more estrogen than with the pill, said Dr. Leslie Miller, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington.

...Thursday's warning comes four months after The Associated Press reported [and 14 months after The New York Post reported this, and 19 months after both The NY Post and the pro-life first started reporting it] that patch users die and suffer blood clots at a rate three times higher than women taking the pill.

Citing federal death and injury reports, the AP also found that about a dozen women, most in their late teens and early 20s, died in 2004 from blood clots believed to be related to the birth-control patch, and dozens more survived strokes and other clot-related problems." [these numbers are not the total picture, as shown in the very first link at top in this post and as explained by the next article quoted below]
It gets much worse:
[A]n internal Ortho McNeil memo shows that the company refused, in 2003, to fund a study comparing its Ortho Evra patch to its Ortho-Cyclen pill because of concerns there was "too high a chance that study may not produce a positive result for Evra" and there was a "risk that Ortho Evra may be the same or worse than Ortho-Cyclen."
Today from this site,, focusing on health risk news:
"[L]ast week, CBS News presented a significant story from Austin, Texas, concerning documents produced in the course of a pending lawsuit involving a young mother who was paralyzed by a stroke only 12 days after she began using the patch. She is now a total invalid. [Emphasis this author's]

According to that story, Ortho-McNeil’s own records show the company received some 500 reports of serious health problems associated with the patch between April 2002 and December 2004. During that time only 61 such reports were received with respect to all types of existing oral contraceptives.

In addition, there were four times as many strokes in women using the patch as in women using oral contraceptives even though three times as many women were taking those other forms of birth control.

Finally, the evidence indicates, that in medically confirmed cases, the risk of blood clots is 14 times as high with the patch.
That article goes on to show the similarities to the Merck internal memo coverups about VIOXX.

We reported the truths of this in September and October 2004.

See how all this differs from what the mainstream media told us above in this week's news? And how they only began reporting it in July 2005, while at least two so-called "biased, anti-abortion" sites and a supposedly-less-than-respectable news publication like The NY Post covered it in April and September 2004?

Note how the MSM even today aren't telling us the whole truth about the actual numbers of deaths from the Patch:
The Associated Press used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain adverse drug reaction reports for Ortho Evra from the FDA and reportedly found that of the 23 cases in which death was the outcome, doctors reviewing the cases found 17 that appeared to be blood-clot-related, including 12 from last year.

Since the FDA estimates that it receives reports of only between 1% and 10% of the serious adverse drug reactions that actually occur, the death rate for Ortho Evra may be significantly higher.
Twenty-three deaths, not even just the 17 I uncovered from reports. Yet, they seem to want us to only think there are 12 or 17 by focusing our attention on only one year, or only one resultant mechanism of death from this Patch.

And people still wonder why we're against all this stuff and don't always believe what the MSM tells us. As Dave Barry would say, "We are not making this stuff up."

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