The initial lawsuits against the contraceptive Yaz have focused predominantly on the cardiovascular damage the drug is alleged to cause, and the majority of these suits have been filed by women who were taking the medicine for its original purpose. However, the makers of Yaz have aggressively promoted the pill as being effective in controlling other conditions such as body weight, acne and even premenstrual syndrome. On this last point, Bayer was warned that the drug was not approved for treating this condition, and told to cease mentioning it in their advertisements.
Now, a new round of lawsuits is being filed by women who took Yaz for these alternative, so-called “off-label” purposes. Young patients such as 16-year-old Katie Anderson embraced the trendy new medication as a virtual cure-all for a variety of teenage “problems.” The teen years are a tumultuous time for anyone, with newfound worries about appearance, body image and the responsibilities of physical intimacy — what responsible, impressionable young teen wouldn’t be at least partly swayed by dramatic claims of such a pill that could handle all three concerns? Katie eventually suffered a blood clot that went from her leg to her heart and might have killed her — although, fortunately, it did not.
Katie and others like her are beginning to add their voices to the number of suits filed against Bayer for failing to adequately warn patients of the dangers. These include patients from Canada as well that have added gallbladder symptoms to the list of damage the pill has done.
For its part, Bayer continues to state in all legal and public records that Yaz is no more dangerous than other contraceptives. This is a significant departure from their advertising that implied a safe, easy, different form of birth control that could fit into any young person’s life; still, the legal battle will certainly continue to debate the point for some time.