Bayer Pharmaceutical, the maker of Yaz and Ocella, both birth control products, has been named in yet another lawsuit. The plaintiff, Sharon Paez of Washington D.C., seeks $750,000 for medical costs and pain and suffering she endured after suffering a stroke due to taking Yaz. According to Paez, her doctor prescribed Yaz for a variety of medical reasons, including contraception, acne, pre-menstrual syndrome, and painful menstrual cramps. Yaz is also marketed under the brand name Yasmin.
Paez joins thousands of women who have filed lawsuits against Bayer, alleging negligence, false advertising, defective design, and inadequate warnings. According to complaints filed against the pharmaceutical company, Yaz contains “drospirenone”, a form of progestin – a hormone – associated with a higher risk of life-threatening blood clots, strokes, pulmonary embolisms, heart attacks, elevated potassium levels, and gallbladder damage. The New York Times reports that a Danish study, published by BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), found that taking birth control pills containing drospirenone increases a woman’s risk of blood clots by six times. The study collected data from 1.3 million women over a nine-year period.
In 2012, the FDA required Bayer to revise the warning labels featured on Yaz products. The new labels warn that Yaz may lead to an increased risk of blood clots compared to other birth control products that do not contain drospirenone. The Chicago Tribune reports that, as of July 2013, Bayer had paid more than 6,700 plaintiffs settlements totaling $1.4 billion. Despite these settlements, Bayer has not acknowledged any wrongdoing.