Popular Birth Control Pills Yaz and Yazmin Target of Lawsuits

Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals is facing federal civil lawsuits relating to its popular birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin. The lawsuits follow an FDA warning letter issued to Bayer stating that the pharmaceutical company had failed to warn prospective patients about the pills’ risks while at the same time overstating the drugs’ benefits. Last year, Bayer ran a $20 million corrective marketing campaign as part of its agreement with the FDA to correct its aggressive and misleading ads. Yaz and Yasmin have been associated with an increased risk of blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, heart attacks and strokes. Currently, a motion has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in order to consolidate and centralize the pending 132 lawsuits against the drugs’ manufacturer Bayer. The lawsuits all contain similar allegations concerning Bayer’s failure to warn consumers about the potentially life threatening side effects associated with Yaz and Yasmin such as increased risk of high blood pressure, strokes, clots, gallbladder disease, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and sudden death. The motion requests that the lawsuits be consolidated before Judge James G. Carr of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, in Toledo. Both Yaz and Yasmin are oral contraceptives that contain ethinyl estradiol and the progestin drospirenone, which are not found in any other contraceptive except for the generic Ocella. If the motion is granted and an MDL (multidistrict litigation) is formed, the Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits would remain individual cases and not part of a Yaz/Yasmin class action suit. A hearing on the MDL motion is expected to be heard in September 2009.

Holly Haines