Sat, Feb 06, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Family blames birth control patch

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City Councilor Huang Hsiang-chun, left, listens as the elder sister of a woman who fell into a coma after allegedly taking a birth control patch produced by a multinational company warned the public about the product’s possible side-effects.

PHOTO: CNA

Family members of a patient who fell into a coma after allegedly using a birth control patch yesterday warned the public about the side effects of the product, and urged the families of other possible victims to join them in a cross-nation lawsuit against the manufacturer.

Accompanied by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Huang Hsiang-chun (黃向群), a woman surnamed Lee said her sister slipped into a coma two years ago after using Ortho Eva, a birth control patch sold by a division of the US multinational Johnson & Johnson.

Lee said Ortho Eva caused blood clots in her sister’s brain, but the company has ignored the family’s demand that it take responsibility for her sister’s condition.

Huang said the US Food and Drug Administration has logged more than 9,000 reports of adverse reactions to the birth control patch over a 17-month period, and more than 6,000 class action lawsuits were filed around the world against the company over the matter.

Lee and her lawyer, Chiu Chang (邱彰), urged those who have suffered a similar fate to join them in seeking compensation from the company by jointly filing a class action lawsuit in the US.

Lee also accused the government of negligence in managing prescription drugs by allowing people to purchase the drugs easily in pharmacies.

“Ortho Eva is a prescription drug, but I bought a box from a pharmacy without being asked for a prescription. You can just walk in and buy it,” she said.

Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美), director of Taipei City’s Food and Drug Division, said drugstores that sell prescription drugs without prescriptions would be fined between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000.

She said the division conducts frequent inspections of drug stores to check that prescription drugs were being sold legally. She said it would continue to monitor pharmacies to prevent sales without prescriptions.

Janssen-Cilag Taiwan, a division of Johnson & Johnson Taiwan, later yesterday issued a statement expressing regret over the case of Lee’s sister, but said that the birth control patch was safe to use under doctor’s prescription.

The company said it had no comment regarding the class action lawsuits against the company in the US.

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