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Users of the Ortho Evra birth control patch are cautioned to consult with their physicians about ongoing usage of this drug. The manufacturer of this patch, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc, lists many potential side effects to be aware of.

Approximately 4 million women have used the patch since it was put on the market in 2002. According to the FDA, women who used the patch are exposed to 60% more estrogen than those who are taking a more conventional birth control pill. This significantly increases their risk of a serious adverse event, including death. Specifically, there have been reports of life-threatening blood clots, fatal heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary embolisms, and other serious problems among Ortho Evra users. A February study showed the patch doubled clot risk compared with the pill. In November 2005, the FDA required that Ortho McNeil change the label for Ortho Evra to include information about the higher levels of estrogen.

The manufacturer of this patch is currently reviewing the medical records and histories of users who were hospitalized after strokes and clots in the legs or lungs following use of Ortho Evra.

Again, consult with your physician if you use this drug and consider your options carefuly, especially if you are suffering from any of the following side effects:

Acne, appetite changes, bladder infection, bleeding in spots during a menstrual period, bloating, blood clots, breast tenderness or enlargement, cataracts, chest pain, contact lens discomfort, decreased flow of milk when used immediately after birth, depression, difficulty breathing, dizziness, fluid retention, gallbladder disease, growth of hair on the face or back, growth of hair on the chest or stomach, hair loss, headache, heart attack, high blood pressure, inflammation of the large intestine, joint pain, kidney trouble, lack of menstrual periods, leg pain, liver tumors, lumps in the breast, menstrual pattern changes, migraine, muscle pain, nausea, nervousness, pancreatitis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), reduced tolerance to carbohydrates, secretion of breast milk, sex drive changes, skin infection, skin rash or discoloration, stomach cramps or pain, stroke, swelling, temporary infertility, unexplained bleeding in the vagina, vaginal discharge, vaginal infections (and/or burning and itching), visual disturbances, vomiting, weight gain or loss, yellow skin or whites of eyes

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