The birth control drug Yaz® has been overwhelmingly popular with women since it was released in 2006. One reason many women began taking the medication over other pregnancy prevention methods was due to its claim that it could treat acne, as well as ease severe symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). However, patients soon discovered that the drug carried far more risks than benefits—and even had the potential to cause death for many users.
Dangerous Side Effects of Yasmin® and Yaz
Yaz and related drug Yasmin, a lower-dose version of the same medication, were both created and marketed by pharmaceutical giant Bayer. The generic version of the medication, Ocella, was manufactured by Barr Laboratories and marketed to U.S. patients by Teva Pharmaceuticals. All three of the medications contain drospirenone, a newer form of synthetic progesterone that is known to cause elevated levels of potassium in the body, leading to heart conditions and other health problems.
Many patients began to report severe reactions to Yaz and Yasmin, which were linked to the active ingredient drospirenone. According to the FDA’s Adverse Events reporting system, Yasmin and Yaz have been linked to a number of serious problems and side effects, including:
- Blood clots
- Heart attacks
- Pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in the lungs)
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs)
- Heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
- Elevated potassium levels (hyperkalemia)
- Gallbladder problems
In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled to add a black-box warning to all Yaz and Yasmin birth control pill labels, warning women who smoke that taking these medications may cause serious heart problems and blood clotting side effects. Thousands of injuries and nearly a hundred deaths have been attributed to the use of Yaz and other drospirenone-containing methods of birth control. According to a study published in 2011 in the British Medical Journal, both Yaz and Yasmin patients suffered twice the risk of blood clots as women taking more established contraceptives.
Lawsuits Against Makers of Harmful Birth Control Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella®
The manufacturers of these drugs are now finding themselves in court due to the severe side effects suffered by patients taking Yaz, Ocella, and Yasmin. Pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility to create safe drugs, test their products thoroughly, and properly warn patients about any underlying risks the medication may cause. Not only was Bayer widely criticized for failing to meet primary warning responsibilities, the company has come under fire for inaccurately advertising the uses of the drug.
Patients who are suing over Yaz and Yasmin have alleged that the drugs were marketed in a way that promoted the benefits of acne reduction and PMS relief, while downplaying potentially serious dangers. The FDA’s official statements on the matter confirm that the commercials created by Bayer falsely marketed the drug’s abilities. Firstly, the company was wrong in suggesting that Yaz had approval for treating acne and PMS at all levels of severity, as the drug only had approval for treating moderate acne and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). The FDA also stated that the drug manufacturer had overstated the efficiency of the contraceptive drug for treating both of these conditions, unfairly attracting more potential customers.
By 2014, Bayer had spent over $1.5 billion to settle over 8,000 cases related to Yaz and Yasmin. Thousands more cases are pending in state and federal courts across the country, and a multi-district legislation (MDL) has been created to handle future claims. Plaintiffs have made a number of claims against Bayer, citing the company for product liability, negligence, misrepresentation, concealment of known dangers, failure to perform adequate research, breach of express and implied warranties, and intention to deceive consumers. Bayer has also been accused of failing to issue a recall after life-threatening side effects of Yaz and Yasmin became known.