More Yaz Lawsuits Expected

Yaz lawsuits could soon number in the thousands, according to lawyers interviewed for a recent Washington Times report. Yaz lawsuits claim the popular contraceptive carries a higher risk of blood clots, heart attacks and strokes, than other birth control pills.

Yaz contains a synthetic type of progestin called drospirenone. Exposure to drospirenone can lead to hyperkalemia, a condition caused by excessive amounts of potassium in the blood, in high risk patients. This condition may result in potentially serious heart and health problems. Because of this risk, women with conditions that predispose them to hyperkalemia (such as renal insufficiency, hepatic dysfunction and adrenal insufficiency) should not take YAZ. Women taking YAZ must also be concerned about the drug interactions that could increase potassium.

One attorney told the Times that the number of Yaz lawsuits will likely grow because of the publication of a study in the British Medical Journal over the summer that found higher risks of clots, heart attacks and strokes with Yaz and its predecessor, Yasmin, compared with other contraceptives. The study blamed the presence of drospirenone for the higher risk.

Lawyers for Yaz lawsuit plaintiffs told The Washington Times that most of their clients are young, and were healthy before they started taking Yaz. Such lawsuits claim Bayer AG marketed Yaz for unapproved uses, downplayed its risks, and overstated its benefits.

Yaz was approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as an oral contraceptive in March 2006, and as a treatment for the emotional and physical symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) in October 2006. Finally, in January 2007, Yaz was approved to treat moderate acne in women who desire an oral contraceptive for birth control.

As we have reported previously, in October 2008, the FDA cited two Yaz commercials for deceptive claims. In a warning letter, the FDA faulted Bayer for overstating the benefits of Yaz, and downplayed serious side effects. Bayer ended up pulling the misleading ads. It also reached an agreement with the FDA and 27 state attorneys general to run new TV spots correcting the misinformation from the pulled commercials. They began running in early 2009.

Just this past August, the FDA warned Bayer about quality control at a German plant that makes drospirenone for Yaz.

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