A North Carolina father has filed a wrongful death lawsuit over Yasmin birth control against Bayer, saying that his 15 year-old daughter died after she was given the pill to help treat her acne, even though she was not sexually active.
Brittany Nicole Prewitt, 15, died on June 13, 2009, after suffering a pulmonary embolism from Yasmin side effects.
According to allegations raised in the product liability lawsuit filed by her father, Scott Prewitt, Bayer failed to adequately warn users about the potential risk of health problems from Yasmin, and that the drug maker illegally and aggressively marketed the birth control pill for acne control, which is not an approved use by the FDA.
Brittany Prewitt was prescribed Yasmin when she was 13 years old on the advice of her dermatologist to help control her acne. Her prescription was later changed to Ocella, a generic Yasmin version that is also manufactured by Bayer but marketed by Teva Pharmaceuticals.
In addition to Bayer, the lawsuit filed earlier this month in Buncombe County Court in North Carolina, accuses Barr Laboratories, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Intendis of wrongful death and product liability. It also lists as defendants the Asheville Children’s Medical Center, Dr. William Bryan III and Kelly Klaaren, who are accused of negligence.
While the birth control pill Yaz, also marketed and manufactured by Bayer, is approved for the treatment of acne in girls 14 and older who desire an oral contraceptive for birth control, Yasmin is not. The two drugs are both drospirenone-based contraceptives.
The lawsuit alleges that Bayer leveraged the approval of Yaz for treatment of acne among women using birth control into a marketing scheme that misled dermatologists to believe that all drospirenone-based birth control pills could be prescribed for treatment of acne, even among young women who are not sexually active.
Yasmin is part of a family of birth control pills manufactured by Bayer that contain a combination of ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone, a new type of progestin. Other oral birth control pills that contain drospirenone include Yaz, Yasminella, Beyaz, Ocella (a generic form of Yasmin) and Gianvi (a generic form of Yaz).
The birth control pills have been heavily marketed by Bayer, particularly to young women and teens. The drug maker has received FDA warnings over advertisements that stressed the potential benefits of Yaz to treat acne and symptoms of PMS, while minimizing the potential risk of blood clots from Yaz. As a result, Bayer was forced to run a $20 million advertising campaign in 2009 to correct misrepresentations about the safety of Yaz.
Bayer currently faces about 7,000 Yaz lawsuits and Yasmin lawsuits filed on behalf of women who allege that the drug maker failed to adequately warn about the increased risk of serious and potentially life-threatening injuries from the birth control bills, such as a stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or gallbladder disease.