Order Issued Regarding Service of Ocella Lawsuits in Yasmin Litigation

The federal judge presiding over the Yaz and Yasmin litigation has issued an agreed order regarding the service of process in lawsuits over Ocella birth control, which is a generic version of Yasmin that is distributed by Barr Laboratories, Inc. and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.

A growing number of Ocella lawsuits have been centralized before U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) established for all product liability lawsuits over side effects of Yaz, Yasmin and other drospirenone-based oral birth control pills.

The complaints involves similar allegations that drospirenone increase the risk of blood clot when compared to some older oral birth control pills, claiming that the manufacturers failed to adequately warn about the risk of users suffering a pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, stroke or other injury.

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Bayer is named as a defendant in all of the lawsuits, as they not only manufacture and sell the brand name Yaz and Yasmin pills, but also manufacture Ocella pills, which are then distributed by Barr and Teva as generic Yasmin equivalents under a 2008 agreement between the companies.

According to Judge Herndon, Barr and Teva have agreed to service of process under the terms outlined in the order, which require the complaint and summons to be sent to designated representatives by certified mail within the next 90 days for any previously filed cases, and within 60 days after any future lawsuits are docketed in the Yaz/Yasmin MDL.

Some lawsuits have named other Barr and Teva entities, including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd. and Barr Pharmaceuticals, LLC, as defendants, and Judge Herndon has ordered that these entities do not have to file any responsive pleadings at this time, to avoid issues concerning the personal jurisdiction over those entities. This was permitted based on indications that these parent companies had no role in the distribution of Ocella pills.

Nearly 10,000 Yaz lawsuits and Yasmin lawsuits have been consolidated before Judge Herndon for coordinated pretrial proceedings in the federal MDL, with additional claims pending in various state courts as well.

Bayer has already reached Yaz and Yasmin settlement agreements in thousands of cases involving women who claim that they suffered a pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis injury after taking the brand-name birth control pills.

Judge Herndon has been instrumental in promoting the efficient conduct of the litigation and guiding the parties towards early settlement agreements, before the first case has even reached a jury.

In another order (PDF) issued earlier this month, Judge Herndon stated that plaintiffs could file claims directly with the Southern District of Illinois, regardless of the plaintiff’s home district, and that the defendants would not challenge the venue where those cases were filed or try to have them moved to another court.


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