As a dangerous drug attorney who has written extensively on lawsuits alleging injuries from Yaz and Yasmin, I was interested to see an article on a recent disclosure to stockholders by their manufacturer, Bayer. The German drug company told stockholders last week that it has paid a total of $142 million in settlements to women and families who allege they were injured by blood clots triggered by the pills. Yaz and Yasmin are newer birth control pills containing the synthetic progestin drospirenone. The chemical was originally marketed as more safer than older contraceptives, but studies and consumer reports eventually showed that it actually poses a higher blood clot risk. These blood clots can lead to life-threatening strokes or heart attacks, sometimes due to pulmonary embolism. Since then, Bayer has faced an increasing number of lawsuits, numbering in the thousands in the United States alone.
The $142 million number will settle 651 lawsuits, Bloomberg News reports, citing a shareholders’ letter. This is a more precise number than Bayer offered earlier in April, when it said publicly that it would pay at least $110 million to settle at least 500 cases. All of these are blood clot cases. The federal blood clot cases are consolidated in East St. Louis, where a judge suspended trials this year in favor of mediation by a George Washington law professor. No settlement has yet been reached that way, and an attorney for some plaintiffs said he didn’t expect one this year. According to Bloomberg, the company is settling only those U.S. lawsuits that allege deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, two serious consequences of blood clots. The article says these cases account for fewer than half of the 11,900 lawsuits pending in the U.S., involving about 14,000 plaintiffs.
The article did not specify what injuries the others allege, but the plaintiffs’ lawyer told Bloomberg that Bayer has declined to discuss settling cases alleging Yasmin and Yaz caused gallstones or other gallbladder injury. Though scientists have apparently not yet narrowed down a reason, women taking drospirenone-containing birth control pills have reported an increase in problems with their gallbladders. This includes gallstones, a painful condition in which hard stone-like objects build up inside the gallbladder, and inflammation of the gallbladder. At worst, the condition can cause infection or even bursting of the gallbladder, requiring its removal. No transplant is required for those who have had their gallbladders removed, but of course, the condition is painful, frightening and potentially expensive. Some Yasmin injury attorneys have suggested this could be caused by a cholesterol buildup triggered by the drug.
As a defective drug lawyer, I’m not surprised to see the total number of settlements and the total payout climbing. Yasmin and Yaz have been the focus of blood clot worries for several years, including several highly-publicized cases when seemingly healthy, often young, women suffered fatal or life-threatening blood clot complications. Bayer has also faced other criticisms of the drug. In early 2009, the FDA penalized the drugmaker for television commercials the agency said were misleading because they played up the drug’s benefits and omitted enough mention of risks. It was also cited that year for failing to follow quality control procedures at a hormone manufacturing plant. As a pharmaceutical liability attorney, I expect to see more trouble for Bayer related to drospirenone.
If you or someone you love suffered an injury or illness after taking Yaz, Yasmin or any other prescription drug, you should call Carey, Danis & Lowe for help. Based in St. Louis, we represent clients around the United States who were hurt by a drug they thought they could trust. For a free, confidential case evaluation, send us an email or call 1-877-678-3400 today.
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