Yaz Birth Control Lawsuits and Settlements – (Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella)

Yaz Birth Control Class Action Lawsuits and Settlements

The makers of the birth control pills Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella (the generic version of Yasmin) are now under birth control class action lawsuits in many states. Settlements are being made, so if you have taken any of these drugs and are having problems, you may be able to join one of these lawsuits.

Yaz and Yasmin are both made by the mega-drug company Bayer and is accused of not alerting the public to serious birth control Yasmin side effects associated with use of this birth control option. Many lawyers have started class action lawsuits which are expected to yield millions of dollars in settlements.

Tens of thousands of women who have taken Yaz, Yasmin or Ocella have suffered a variety of side effects including stroke, heart attack, gallbladder disease, deep vein thrombosis, blood clots in the legs and lungs and pulmonary embolisms. Blood clots in the legs and lungs may appear as shortness of breath and back pain.

Many women have had to have their gallbladders removed and still others have suffered debilitating strokes that have left them with severe consequences which have permanently disabled them. Some women who have taken these drugs have had to undergo life-saving kidney transplants due to their complications.

In February of this year, a 20 year old college student passed out in her shower and later died as a result of a pulmonary embolism. Doctors told her family that her death may have been caused by the birth control she was taking – Yaz. Since 2004, the FDA has received reports of over 50 deaths from cardiovascular and other complications associated with Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella.

Bayer’s marketing approach featured claims that the birth control drug provided health benefits in addition to preventing contraception. Yaz coined itself as “beyond birth control” in the hip ads set to rock music and targeted at young women in their 20s.

The FDA sent a warning letter and scolded Bayer for overstating the benefits of the drug and understating the risks. The government, calling the ads “false and misleading”, ordered Bayer to run ads retracting exaggerated boasts of health benefits. The $20 million 2009 marketing campaign ordered by the FDA to correct the misstatements still cast the controversial drugs in a good light, touting it as a remedy for severe PMS and acne.

Yasmin came onto the market in 2001 and Yaz in 2006 and are considered fourth generation steroidal pharmaceuticals. They are based on the chemical drospirenone which lawsuits and sufferers assert leads to higher than normal levels of potassium.

Drospirenone, when ingested, acts as a diuretic, causing fluid loss. Increased fluid loss drives decreases in sodium which then results in the increased potassium level. If this progresses, cardiac electrolytes can become imbalanced which then causes problems with the function of the heart and allows blood to pool in certain parts of the body (heart, lungs, legs).

Abnormally high potassium, called hyperalkemia, can cause blood clots in the arteries, gallbladder disease, kidney failure, liver failure, pancreatitis, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and in rare cases, sudden cardiac death.

For its part, Bayer contends that these contraceptives are safe when used properly and that all oral contraceptives have side effects. But in August of 2009, the FDA issued another warning to Bayer – this time about quality control issues at a plant in Germany that produces the key ingredient in Yaz – drospirenone.

The serious side effects associated with Yasmin, Yaz and Ocella can strike women of any age who are taking these birth control medications.

There are more than 25,000 individual lawsuits across the U.S. that are now being consolidated into “multi-district litigation” (MDL) in the federal courts.

An MDL is similar to a class-action lawsuit, but with an important difference. Each plaintiff keeps their individual claim, but they are consolidated as a group to facilitate the litigation process.

Two studies published by the British Medical Journal indicate that women taking birth control with the active ingredient contained in Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella are two times more likely to suffer blood clots as women taking other contraceptives.

Based on the growing number of lawsuits, a Bayer recall of Yasmin and Yaz is rumored to be under consideration. But for now, the drugs continue to be prescribed and sold, despite the litigation and controversy surrounding them.

Paul M. Regis

Paul Regis has been reporting on class action lawsuits for over 10 years.