Teen's Death Raises Concerns over Birth Control Patch

By Charlene Israel and Ashley Forbes
CBN News Producers

CBN.com - (CBN News) - More than four million women have used the stick-on contraceptive called the birth control patch since its FDA approval in 2001.

But now there are questions about its safety.

Eighteen-year old Zakiya Kennedy was just like any other young woman with dreams of becoming a model. But in April 2004, the college student collapsed and died.

Zakiya's father, Kevin Kennedy, said, "She was complaining that her head was hurting. She felt pain in her leg. She had felt dizzy."

An autopsy determined that Zakiya died from a blood clot, possibly related to the Ortho Evra birth control patch she had been using.

The patch works like the birth control pill, releasing hormones through the skin. The pill and the patch have been thought to be similar in effectiveness and in health risks, and those risks have always been considered to be extremely small.

But this week, the Associated Press released the findings of its own analysis of the patch, saying that women who used it ran a higher risk of dying from blood clots than those on the pill--and that of 800,000 women who used the patch in 2004, 12 died.

But the manufacturer of the patch, Ortho McNeil, said that the actual number of patch users in 2004 was 2 million, which would place the risk at the same level as the pill.

And both Ortho McNeil and the FDA maintain that the patch is safe.

But for the family of Zakiya Kennedy, just one death caused by a birth control product is too many.

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