ONEONTA, NY, September 25, 2013 ( – A young woman from New York has died from complications from her use of the contraceptive patch Ortho Evra, her family said.

Justine A. Sperbeck of Oneonta, New York, died at the age of 21 on August 28, from a pulmonary embolism. 

The long-acting contraceptive Ortho Evra has been known to cause deep-vein thrombosis, or blood clots in the legs and pulmonary embolisms, or blood clots in the lungs.

“She just loved to talk to people,” Justine's mother, Claire, said. “She would help anyone in anyway that she could.”


Ortho Evra has been tied to other deaths. An 18-year-old New York University fashion student, Zakiya Kennedy, died in a subway due to side effects of the patch in April 2004.

The birth control patch was released on the market in 2002. The FDA received 9,116 complaints of negative side effects in only 17 months.


“Our family is so heartbroken and devastated over the loss of Justine,” wrote Justine's family on a Give Forward page to raise money for her headstone. “We never knew until we researched it how many other families out there have a similar story as ours.

“We can not change what happened to Justine, but we can stand up and together to make a difference. Our hope that by sharing Justine's story is to educate others about these types of birth control options. to understand the risks and side effects and symptoms of those side effects so that they never have to feel the heartbreak we have.”

A federal safety study obtained by the Associated Press found, “in 2004 – when 800,000 women were on the patch – the risk of dying or suffering a survivable blood clot while using the device was about three times higher than while using birth control pills.”

Ultimately, its manufacturer – Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc., which is a subsidiary of the Johnson and Johnson Company – settled a lawsuit for $68.7 million.

Despite the documented risks this and other forms of contraception pose to women, a coalition of left-leaning medical organizations, population control groups, and the Obama administration have promoted long-acting contraceptives at home and abroad, often aimed at young teen girls.

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The possible side effects are often brushed aside – sometimes with deadly effect.

Justine's sister, Melissa Conrad, told WBNG 12 Action News that her sister “wasn't educated enough I believe to know what was going to be the best option.”