Lawsuits have been filed by women who developed pseudotumor cerebri (PTC) after using hormone-based birth control products. PTC is a condition that occurs when pressure inside the brain builds up, resulting in symptoms that may mimic a brain tumor. Pseudotumor cerebri may also be referred to as idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) or benign intracranial hypertension (BIH).
What is Ortho Evra?
Ortho Evra is a contraceptive patch that contains estrogen and progestin. The patch is applied to the skin once a week for 3 weeks. On the 4th week, the patch is removed, which allows menstruation to occur.
Ortho Evra works much like an oral contraceptive. The patch protects against pregnancy by releasing hormones into the blood that suppress ovulation, which keeps the ovaries from releasing an egg. Ortho Evra is made by Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a Johnson & Johnson company), and was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2005.
Hormonal Contraceptives & Pseudotumor Cerebri (PTC)
The brain contains 4 ventricles through which cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flows. CSF is a clear watery fluid that fills the space between the arachnoid membrane and the pia mater. In order to maintain the correct pressure inside the skull, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid must be kept in balance.
In patients with pseudotumor cerebri, however, an excessive amount of CSF accumulates, resulting in chronic or migraine headaches, vision problems and ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Most patients are initially diagnosed with a brain tumor before PTC is recognized.
Symptoms of PTC
- Changes in vision
- Vision loss
- Papilledema (swelling of the optic nerve)
- Feeling dizzy or nauseated
- Neck stiffness
- Difficulty walking
- Persistent ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Ortho Evra Side Effects
Ortho Evra has been linked to the following serious side effects:
- Heart attack
- Blood Clots
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Pulmonary Embolism (PE)