More than 20,000 lawsuits involving the Yaz birth control pill could be headed to a multidistrict litigation currently underway in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois before Judge David R. Herndon (MDL No. 2100).
Yaz is one of the most popular contraceptives in the U.S. In 2008, Yaz , and its precursor Yasmin, which is also named in lawsuits, generated about $1.8 billion for Bayer. The manufacturers of Yaz and Yasmin have been warned at least three times by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) over misleading television advertisements which overstated the efficiency the drugs and minimized their serious risks.
Yaz, Yasmin and a generic birth control pill called Ocella are all made with a type of progestin called drospirenone, making them different from many other oral contraceptives. Drospirenone can elevate the bodyâ€™s potassium levels, which can lead to a condition called hyperkalemia in certain patients. Hyperkalemia may result in potentially serious heart and health problems. Adverse Events reported to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) involving Yaz and Yasmin include heart arrhythmias, electrolyte imbalance, hyponatremis, hyperkalemia, hyperkalemic arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, tachycardia, bradycardia, myocardial infarction, stroke, transient ischemic attack, blood clots, embolisms, and sudden death.
Yaz and other drospirenone-containing contraceptives have been named in hundreds of lawsuit filed by women around the country who claim the medications caused them to suffer blood clots and other health problems. They allege that Yaz and Yasmin were not subjected to adequate testing, and that Bayer failed to provide adequate warnings about their potential side effects.
According to a report on BND.com, as many as 25,000 lawsuits could end up in the multidistrict litigation. On Friday, Judge Herndon said he had hired a law clerk to help manage the cases. He said the clerk’s office will also hire a clerk to help with the increased caseload.
BND also reported that Judge Herndon has discussed scheduling a series of “bellwether” trials for the lawsuits. These trials will serve as a guideline for other cases,” Judge Herndon said. “There will be a variety of dynamics which will be taken into account in the evaluation of cases.”
It is likely that it could take more than two years to resolve all of the Yaz lawsuits on Judge Herndon’s docket.