Lawsuit Says Yasmin and Yaz Problems Were Concealed to Boost Sales

Two pension funds for firefighters and city employees in Pennsylvania have filed a lawsuit against Bayer, saying that the drug maker hid health risks and misrepresented the effectiveness of its popular birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin. The complaint joins hundreds of other lawsuits pending against the pharmaceutical company over problems with Yaz and Yasmin.

The Yaz / Yasmin lawsuit was filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by the Philadelphia Firefighters Union Local No. 22 Health and Welfare Fund, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, District Council 47 Health and Welfare Fund. The funds accuse Bayer of unlawfully promoting Yaz to mislead investors about the value of the company, concealing the drug’s increased risks of blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, gallbladder disease, pulmonary embolisms and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

There are currently at least 300 Yaz lawsuits or Yasmin lawsuits pending in state or federal courts throughout the United States, according to a report by Bloomberg News. Most of the complaints have been filed on behalf of users of the birth control pills who suffered a personal injury that they allege Bayer failed to adequately warn about.

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Although Bayer has only acknowledged that 74 complaints have been served, Bloomberg News reports that at least 200 lawsuits over Yaz or Yasmin are consolidated in a federal MDL that is centralized in the Southern District of Illinois, and another 50 cases are consolidated in Pennsylvania state court in Philadelphia.

The new pension fund lawsuit accuses Bayer of defrauding investors by hiding the risk of Yaz and Yasmin side effects, leading to false estimates of the value of the pharmaceutical company and its birth control products.

Yaz and Yasmin both contain a combination of ethinyl estradiol, which is used in many oral contraceptives, and drospirenone, a unique type of progestin that is only found in these drugs and generic Ocella. Drospirenone, or drsp, impacts the body’s normal mechanism of regulating a balance between salt and water, which could result in elevated potassium levels. This can cause a condition known as hyperkalemia, which is linked to potentially life-threatening Yaz and Yasmin problems.

Last month, it was announced by Swissmedic, the medical regulatory agency in Switzerland, that they were investigating a potential Yaz pulmonary embolism death. The agency reported that there have been at least nine deaths in Switzerland that may be due to birth control side effects since 1990.

In the United States, complaints filed against the drug maker allege that at least 50 Yaz or Yasmin deaths were reported to the FDA between the first quarter of 2004 and third quarter of 2008. The deaths involved women as young as 17 who suffered heart attacks, strokes or pulmonary emboli with Yaz or Yasmin, and elevated levels of potassium in the blood were frequently reported.

Late last year, the FDA and several state attorney generals forced Bayer to run a $20 million corrective advertising campaign for its Yaz birth control pills because prior marketing contained false claims about the drug’s acne and PMS-fighting benefits, and did not clearly state all of the known side effects, drowning some of them out with loud music. As a result of the misleading advertisements, Bayer agreed that the FDA will screen future Yaz ads for six years before they can be aired.

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