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Former J&J Execs Say Firm Ignored Concerns About Contraceptive Safety

Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 2400 lawsuits over its Ortho Evra birth-control patch. And now, reports the Star-Ledger of Newark, NJ, those plaintiffs' cases may receive a boost from two former J&J executives. They say they raised concerns about the patch's safety but were ignored. The identity of one, Joel Lippman, a former medical officer, was made known last year when he filed a whistleblower lawsuit.

But court documents now reveal a second whistleblower, a former vice president who resigned rather than sign off on a "benefit and risk safety evaluation" he disagreed with. The patch has been linked to blood clots -- possibly from great estrogen exposure -- and the plantiffs allege that J&J knew it had greater risks than birth-control pills (which have as much as 60% less estrogen than the patch), but marketed it agressively, underplaying the dangers. Postmarket studies are ongoing, and results so far have been contradictory. They could ultimately decide the fate of the lawsuits. In the meantime, J&J has a very messy situation on its hands.

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