Yaz Faces Swiss Probe Following User’s Sudden Death

Swiss health regulators are investigating Yaz following the “sudden” death of a young women who suffered a pulmonary emboli while taking the popular birth control pill.

Yaz was approved in the U.S. in 2006. It is a low-estrogen pill, and is made with a type of progestin called drospirenone. As we’ve reported previously, drospirenone is known to carry some health risks not seen with other forms of the hormone. Most notably, it can increase the levels of potassium in the blood, which can lead to a disorder called hyperkalemia in high risk patients. This condition may result in potentially serious heart and health problems, including fatal cardiac arrhythmias. High potassium levels are especially dangerous for people who are obese, or who have diabetes or high blood pressure.

Since early 2004, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has received over 50 reports of deaths in women who were taking Yaz and other drospirenone-containing contraceptives. Many of the reported deaths involved elevated potassium levels. The deaths were caused by a variety of ailments, including cardiac arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, intracardiac thrombus (blood clots in the heart), pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs) and stroke in women in their child bearing years.

According to a report on Bloomberg.com, Swissmedic and an investigative judge are looking into the death of a young woman who had been taking Yaz for 10 months. She died from the affects of a pulmonary embolism she suffered in mid-September. According to a Reuters report, Swissmedic began investigating all birth control pills after a 16-year-old girl was disabled by a lung embolism in May after taking Yaz.

At least 74 lawsuits have been filed across the country on behalf of plaintiffs who claim they suffered serious injuries because of their use of Yaz and its sister drug, Yasmin. Plaintiffs in these lawsuits claim Bayer overstated the benefits of these drugs and failed to adequately warn of their risks. On September 24, 2009, a hearing was held before the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation on a petition to consolidate all Yaz and Yasmin litigation in one federal court as a Multi-District Litigation. A decision on the petition is expected in a few weeks.

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