Bayer Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the birth control medication called Yaz, has been faced with over 4,200 lawsuits over that controversial drug. Women all over the country have been reporting serious side effects connected to Yaz, making it apparent that there are dangers associated with the once popular birth control pill. The alleged side effects include heart attacks, blood clots, strokes, gallbladder disease, and pulmonary embolisms. When it first became available, Yaz was one of the most popular medications of its kind on the market. The main ingredient in Yaz is drospirenone, which is a synthetic form of progestin that has proven to be very successful in preventing pregnancies.
In 2006, Bayer took over Berlex, the company that originally distributed Yaz and introduced it back into the market after receiving FDA approval to do so. Berlex began the manufacture of Yaz in 2001 under the name Yasmin. Due to Bayer’s intense marketing campaign, Yaz became the most popular as well as profitable prescription birth control pill in the country. Their strong marketing was backed tremendously by the support of physicians. Ultimately, Bayer’s marketing strategy came under criticism because the campaign contained some information that was misleading. Bayer was also chastised because they advertised Yaz as not just an oral contraceptive but as a treatment for acne.
Berlex received a written warning in 2003 from the Food and Drug Administration for their public claims that their birth control pill was superior to others on the market. According to the FDA, Berlex did not have the grounds to make such claims. The FDA’s written warning to Berlex also stated that they were not making enough information available to consumers about the side effects of the drug.
After taking over Berlex, Bayer led a similar marketing campaign for Yaz in 2008 that was even larger and more rigorous. Once again, the FDA issued a warning that claiming that their drug was better had no basis. They also added that by presenting Yaz for any purpose other than as a method of birth control was misleading. This was added to the FDA’s warning since Bayer was also marketing Yaz as treatment for premenstrual disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Other than for use as an oral contraceptive, the FDA had only approved Yaz to be used for mild cases of acne and PMDD.
After receiving the warnings from the FDA, Bayer responded by launching a $20 million campaign to clear up any mistakes or misleading information that may have come out of the original ad campaigns. When all of the new television, radio, and newspaper advertisements became public, there were already thousands of women who had begun to report complications like strokes, heart attacks, blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, and gallbladder disease.
In 2009, the courts in the Southern District of Illinois approved a motion to combine the Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits into one multidistrict litigation. The number of lawsuits being filed grows every day, and women who have taken Yaz, Yasmin, or its generic counterpart called Ocella are being prompted to see a doctor and talk about any of these side effects they may have had.
Even if side effects seem mild, it is possible for them to develop into more serious health issues that can have long-term consequences. But it is possible to stop these illnesses if they are diagnosed early and are given the proper treatment. Women who have had any of these side effects should also meet with an attorney to find out what their legal options are for receiving compensation from Bayer or any other manufacturers of drugs similar drug.