Bayer AG reported yesterday that it has settled more Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits that allege the popular birth control pills caused young women to suffer dangerous blood clots. According to a report from Bloomberg News, nearly 1,900 Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits have been resolved for $406.2 million. In its latest stockholder newsletter, Bayer also said it planned to up its reserves for Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits, and will be setting aside an additional $610 million to take care of legal costs not covered by its insurance.
According to the Bloomberg report, Bayer is only settling Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits involving venous blood clots, which occur in the veins and can cause heart attacks and strokes. Such lawsuits represent roughly half of the 12,000 or so claims pending in state courts around the country, and in the federal Yaz and Yasmin multidistriction underway in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois. So far, the company has not settled any lawsuits involving arterial blood clots or gall bladder disease. The arterial clot cases represent some of the most serious injuries alleged to have been caused by Yaz and Yasmin, Bloomberg said.
Yaz and Yasmin are both made with a synthetic form of progestin called drospirenone. In April, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the labels for Yaz, Yasmin and other drospirenone birth control pills would be updated to provide stronger information regarding their blood clot risks, after some studies indicated that such contraceptives were associated with as high as a three-fold increase in the risk of blood clots.
Late last year, the first bellwether trials, or test cases, scheduled to start in the federal Yaz and Yasmin multidistrict litigation were postponed indefinitely. U.S. District Judge David Herndon, at the behest of Bayer, instead ordered the parties to begin settlement negotiations, and appointed a special master, George Washington law professor Stephen Saltzburg, to mediate. In an interview with the Madison Record last month, Salzburg expressed optimism about the push to settle cases.
“So far, so good,” Saltzburg said of the status of the litigation, according to the Record. “I am cautiously optimistic that we will settle all of these cases. There are always some holdouts, but I think we will settle the bulk of these cases in the next year.”
Saltzburg is also serving as a special master in Yasmin-related litigation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He told the Record that “everyone wants their cases settled,” and that the judges overseeing the litigations “are very happy that these cases are settling in the way they are settling.”