For the first time, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a contraceptive skin patch for weekly use. Ortho Evra, made by New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson, is a one-and-three-quarter-inch patch containing the hormones norelgestromin and ethinyl estradiol, designed to be an alternative to birth control pills.
The patch delivers the hormones through the skin for a 1-week period. Ortho Evra can be worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks or upper body only. Each patch should be worn continuously for 7 days, before being replaced with a new patch on the same day of the week. The regimen should be followed for 3 weeks, with no patch being applied in the fourth week. The treatment-free week allows a woman to have her period.
Dangers associated with its use are similar to those of taking birth control pills, including greater risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke. As with birth control pills, smokers are warned against using Ortho Evra due to an increased risk of serious cardiovascular side effects.