More than 4,200 lawsuits have been filed against Bayer Pharmaceuticals over the company’s controversial prescription birth control medication Yaz. Women across the United States are alleging experiencing side effects including heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, gallbladder disease, and many other serious complications. Yaz was once a very popular fourth generation contraceptive drug, which features the main ingredient drospirenone, a synthetic progestin that is very successful in preventing pregnancy.
Yaz was reintroduced to the U.S. market in 2006 when Bayer assumed control of Berlex Laboratories and the FDA issued approval. Initially, Yaz was manufactured as Yasmin by Berlex in 2001. For several years, Yaz was the most popular and profitable prescription oral contraceptive in the U.S., as Bayer intensely marketed the drug with overwhelming physician support. However, the marketing campaigns that the manufacturer used for Yaz and Yasmin were just as widely criticized for containing misleading information. Bayer was also chided for presenting Yaz as both a contraceptive and an acne treatment.
In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a written warning to Berlex because the company was publicly claiming that Yasmin was a superior birth control drug. The FDA reasoned that Berlex had no grounds on which to make that claim, additionally charging that the company wasn’t providing substantial information regarding the drug’s side effects. In 2008, with Bayer running a much larger and intensive Yaz campaign, the FDA warned again that the claims of being the better drug were unfounded. The FDA also warned that by marketing Yaz for purposes other than birth control, the company was sending misleading messages. Bayer also marketed Yaz as a treatment for premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. The FDA only issued approval for the use of Yaz in mild cases of acne and PMDD.
Bayer responded to the FDA’s warnings with a $20 million campaign clarifying the mistakes or misleads in the original marketing. However, by the time that these TV, radio and newspaper ads were released, thousands of women had already begun reporting serious side effects such as strokes, heart attacks, blood clots, gallbladder disease and pulmonary embolism.
A motion was approved in 2009 to consolidate Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits into a multidistrict litigation in the Southern District of Illinois. As the number of lawsuits filed grows, women who had previously been taking Yaz, Yasmin or the generic Ocella are strongly encouraged to meet with a physician to discuss any side effects that they have experienced. Even mild side effects can develop into serious long-term health issues over years and these illnesses can be deterred through treatment and proper diagnosis.
Additionally, women who have experienced these side effects should consult with an attorney to discuss legal recourse and their options in seeking just compensation from Bayer or other companies who have manufactured and marketed similar drugs to Yaz and Yasmin.