More choice is good for business. This has been a mantra for the marketing industry. When several new-generation birth control pills appeared on the market during the past decade, the drug manufacturers promoted the benefits of having newer — and better — contraceptive options. In doing so, they may have misrepresented the safety of these products, which can have life-threatening side effects.
In late 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) convened a hearing about the safety of some newer oral contraceptives, including Yaz and Yasmine, both products of Bayer Pharmaceuticals. The FDA had already instructed the company to stop running ads that made unsupported, distorted claims. The hearing was concerned with the fact that women using Yaz or Yasmine had a 74 percent higher risk for blood clots. Blood clots can cause serious or deadly conditions such as:
- Heart attacks
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Pulmonary embolism
The FDA panel agreed that Bayer had not provided adequate labeling information. But the panel did not recommend that these products be withdrawn, even though consumer groups and women’s health advocates had urged that they do so. With Yaz and Yasmine still on the market, thousands of women have been harmed or suffered fatalities.
To date, more than 12,000 lawsuits have been filed against Bayer claiming damages for injuries caused by these birth control drugs. The company settled a small percentage of these cases for $402 million in 2012 — small potatoes given that these products are worth more than $1.1 billion. However, they may not get off so easily if a mass tort action gains traction.
Any woman who has suffered from blood clot-related injuries after using one of these drugs is urged to speak to an attorney with experience in pharmaceutical and mass tort litigation.