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In what may be viewed by some as a “disturbing” business practice, the maker of the Ortho Evra birth control patch appears to be ‘settling Ortho Evra lawsuits almost as quickly as they are filed’, in exchange for confidentiality agreements which prevent the persons settling from discussing the facts of their cases (and, in doing so, preventing the public from becoming better educated as to the nature, extent, and number, of patients who have sustained serious personal injury and even death as the result of use of Ortho Evra.).

The likely reasons for the rapid settlements are twofold and clear: (1) the manufacturer (Johnson & Johnson, a division of Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc) wants to keep a lid on things by requiring ‘confidentiality’; and (2) the causal relationship between the injuries and the product are easily determined.

As described in the article entitled J&J Can’t Settle Ortho-Evra Cases Fast Enough:

” . . legal experts say J&J attorneys are fully aware that the cause of the injuries and death alleged in the lawsuits will be easy to prove because the plaintiffs have a “signature disease,” described as a condition closely linked to the use of a drug that is otherwise very rare. In this instance, they point out, blood clots, heart attacks and strokes are extremely unusual in teenagers and women of childbearing years, with the only commonality among the victims being the Ortho Evra birth control patch.

That September 28, 2006, article goes on to state:

Despite having first-hand knowledge of the number of women being injured and killed, the FDA did not officially alert the pubic to the high risks associated with the patch until November 10, 2005, when a “Black Box” warning was added to the product label that said the device could expose women to estrogen levels 60% higher than oral contraceptives and that the increased dosage was associated with a greater risk of blood clots.

Unfortunately for the thousands of young women who have already died or been injured, this action by the FDA represents another case where the agency charged with protecting consumers from the profit driven pharmaceutical industry has done too little to late.

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