Bayer, the makers of the controversial birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin, reportedly reached settlements with 33 different law firms as a means of solving at least 1,444 lawsuits that were filed against the company over the pills’ side effects.
That number of settlements may sound like a lot, but it is just a fraction of the more than 14,000 lawsuits that have been filed against the company over Yaz side effects. The side effects that have spawned so many lawsuits include blood clots that can lead to pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis, heart attacks, strokes and gallbladder disease. Most recently, it has come to light that irritable bowel syndrome and kidney stones may also be caused by Yaz use.
While all of the federal cases have been centralized to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, presiding Judge David R. Herndon has been delaying the trial start in the hopes that settlement agreements can be reached instead. So far, both parties in Herndon’s jurisdiction have agreed to try to negotiate a settlement. This is according to the minutes from a status conference that was held June 22.
Herndon delayed the first of the bellwether trials that was supposed to begin in January in favor of settlement talks. Bayer has already reached settlement agreements in more than 500 lawsuits to the tune of $110 million, which amounts to about $220,000 per plaintiff. When that settlement was reached, it was unclear as to why the drug giant agreed to the settlements at all, especially since it had steadfastly stood by the safety of the pills by stating that Yaz and Yasmin (which both contain the synthetic progestin drospirenone) were no more dangerous than older birth control pills that don’t contain drospirenone.
It turns out that case-specific analysis of patients’ medical records may be the reason Bayer is trying to settle cases. At the moment, only the pulmonary embolisms or deep vein thrombosis cases are being settled.