Our law firm has closely followed the problems associated with the birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin, both of which contain the active ingredient drospirenone. So as a dangerous drug attorney, I was not surprised to see another lawsuit filed in the United States by a family claiming Yaz caused a fatal blood clot in a young woman of 18. According to the Lehigh Valley Express-Times, Joan Cummins of Hackettstown, N.J. sued Bayer, the manufacturer of Yaz and Yasmin, May 10. Her suit follows thousands of others in North America, alleging that Bayer should have recalled the drug, has advertised it misleadingly and failed to warn doctors and patients about the risks. Many claims have been consolidated into a class-action lawsuit in Illinois.
Cummins is suing over the death of her daughter, Michelle Pfleger, who was just 18 and a college freshman at Elon University in North Carolina. Pfleger collapsed on her way to a class in September, and an autopsy report found that she had a pulmonary thromboemboli — a blood clot in her lung — that caused cardiac arrest. She had been prescribed Yaz to control acne. Cummins alleges that Bayer consciously decided not to warn patients and doctors of the risk of death and serious injury from blood clots.
All oral contraceptives carry some increased risk of blood clotting, but at least six studies have turned up an increased risk of clots for patients taking birth control containing drospirenone. As a result, Yaz and Yasmin, and their newer generics, got more safety warnings on the labels in 2010. More recently, in April, two studies published in the online version of the British Medical Journal confirmed that connection with a study of U.S. prescription data. Even after women with other risk factors for thrombosis were ruled out — which previous studies hadn’t done — the researchers still found a greater risk of blood clots compared to women taking pills with the older levonorgestrel. Bayer has also been disciplined by the FDA for advertisements that overstated the drug’s uses and played down its risks.
As a defective prescription drug lawyer, I’m pleased that this story is getting so much media attention. Cummins is far from the first person to file a Yaz/Yasmin lawsuit, but perhaps her sad and compelling story will point widespread attention toward the risks of these drugs. Despite the six studies, FDA action and thousands of lawsuits, Bayer has consistently denied that the risk from its drugs is higher than the risk from other birth control pills. But when a presumably healthy 18-year-old develops a fatal blood clot after taking Yaz, it’s worth asking whether it’s safe to use. Many individual families are fighting their way through the courts to address the issue, but I hope the FDA takes appropriate action on these studies as well.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we focus our practice on representing clients who have suffered a loss in the family or a serious injury or illness caused by a medication. That includes over-the-counter, generic and name-brand prescription drugs with more serious side effects than their packaging and advertisements suggested. Americans take for granted that drugs wouldn’t be for sale if they were unsafe — but in fact, the FDA’s oversight is less than perfect and frequently updated after approval when new reports of dangerous side effects arrive. Our pharmaceutical liability attorneys represent clients who are suing drug companies that failed to warn them about a dangerous effect they knew or should have known about. This kind of claim helps clients pay for the medical care they need as a result of the dangerous drug, replace income lost if they can’t work and compensates them for a permanent loss.
If your family has suffered an injury or a death you believe was caused by a dangerous medication, Carey, Danis & Lowe can help. For a free, confidential case evaluation, send us an email or call 1-877-678-3400 today.