This blog routinely covers the ongoing series of lawsuits over the safety of the birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin (both containing drospirenone). So as a dangerous drug attorney, I was very pleased to see two patient-friendly developments last week. On April 10, the FDA announced it was requiring stronger warning labels for birth control pills containing drospirenone, which include Bayer’s Yaz and Yasmin as well as similar drugs. Then, on April 13, the news broke that Bayer has agreed to settle about 500 of the numerous lawsuits brought by U.S. victims of blood clot side effects from taking Yasmin or Yaz. The pharmaceutical company will pay at least $110 million to settle the cases, an average of about $220,000 per case. Plaintiffs in these cases allege that they developed life-threatening blood clots, leading in some cases to pulmonary embolism, a medical emergency, or even death.
The FDA action came after the agency examined data on 835,000 patients who took drospirenone-containing drugs. Several studies have found that women taking drospirenone, a synthetic progesterone, are as much as three times as likely to develop the life-threatening blood clots as women taking older forms of hormonal birth control. After it reviewed recent studies, the FDA announced it would add information about those studies to the warning label on drugs like Yasmin and Yaz. It also said it would continue to study the issue. Yasmin was the fourth-best-selling birth control pill in the United States in 2011, according to Bloomberg News; contraceptives generated $1.58 billion in sales for Bayer in 2010, behind only a drug for multiple sclerosis. The FDA reports at least 50 deaths connected to the pills between 2004 and 2008.
The Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits allege Bayer and some subsidiaries misled patients about the risks of the drugs in marketing materials. Bloomberg reports that over 11,000 lawsuits have been filed in the United States, most alleging the drugs caused injures from blood clots the manufacturer should have warned about. A February SEC filing by the company said 70 had already been settled, but many more are pending. Federal Yaz and Yasmin injury lawsuits have been consolidated in East St. Louis (not far from our own offices here at Carey, Danis & Lowe), but state cases may be pending across the United States. The judge in the consolidated federal cases postponed the first trial, scheduled for early January, and instead ordered mediation led by George Washington University law professor Stephen Saltzburg. One legal expert interviewed by Bloomberg said the settlements show that mediation may be working.
As a pharmaceutical liability lawyer, I welcome the news that these lawsuits may settle — as long as people injured by the drugs are fairly compensated. This group of victims includes women who suffered serious health problems because they took Yaz and Yasmin, as well as families that lost a loved one due to blood clots and the problems they cause. The main problem with blood clots is that they can enter the bloodstream and travel through the body to the lungs, where they obstruct blood flow and put pressure on the heart. For the patient, the result is difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations and sometimes collapse. It is considered a medical emergency requiring quick treatment with an anti-clotting drug or, in rare cases, surgery. As a defective prescription drug attorney, I urge patients taking Yaz, Yasmin or other drospirenone-containing birth control pills to talk to their doctors about this newest FDA action.
If you or someone in your family suffered severe health problems because of Yasmin, Yaz or another dangerous prescription drug you were given no warning about, don’t hesitate to contact Carey, Danis & Lowe. For a free, confidential consultation, send us an email or call 1-877-678-3400 today.
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Bayer Settling Yaz Lawsuits Doesn’t Stop New Cases
Connecticut Supreme Court Affirms New Trial Order in Birth Control Blood Clots Case – Curran v. Kroll