Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a serious type of blood clot that forms deep in a vein, most often in the muscles of the leg. In young women, the occurrence of DVT may be associated with the use of certain types of hormonal contraceptives, including the Yaz and Yasmin birth control pills. Some studies have indicated that Yaz, Yasmin and other birth control pills made with the synthetic progestin, drospirenone, can increase the risks that a woman will develop DVT and other serious blood clots by as much as 75%.
The symptoms of DVT mimic many other health problems, so the condition can be difficult to diagnose. While about half of DVTs cause no symptoms, some patients may present with:
- Swelling in one or both legs
- Pain or tenderness in one or both legs, which may occur only while standing or walking
- Warmth in the skin of the affected leg
- Red or discolored skin in the affected leg
- Visible surface veins
- Leg fatigue
If a DVT completely blocks blood flow, it can cause chronic pain and swelling. In some cases, blood vessels can sustain permanent damage, resulting in decreased mobility. In the most dangerous scenario, the blood clot can break free and travel to the lungs, becoming a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. Sudden coughing, sometimes accompanied by blood; sharp chest pain; rapid breathing or shortness of breath; or severe lightheadedness, are all potential signs of a pulmonary embolism. Anyone experiencing such symptoms should call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately.
Yaz, Yasmin and DVT
Yaz and Yasmin are both made with a synthetic form of progestin called drospirenone, which has been linked to an increased risk of blood clots, including DVTs. 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 serious blood clots.
Thousands of women have sued the manufacturers of Yaz and Yasmin for injuries, including DVTs, allegedly caused by the birth control pills. Some 12,000 Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits are pending in state courts around the country, as well as in the federal Yaz and Yasmin multidistrict litigation underway in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois. Last week, Bayer AG revealed that it has already settled 1,900 Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits for $406.2 million. The company 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.
So far, Bayer is only settling claims involving venous blood clots, which represent about half of the Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits filed thus far.