Yaz and Yasmin Gallbladder Disease Risk Higher Than Other Pills: Study

Side effects of Yaz, Yasmin and other birth control pills that use the progestin drospirenone could increase the risk of gallbladder disease by as much as 20% when compared to older oral contraceptives, according to a new study by Canadian researchers. 

Although the overall risk was small, Yaz and Yasmin birth control pills had the highest rate of gallbladder disease out of any other oral contraceptive tested, according to the findings of a study published online by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

The study’s lead author, Mahyar Etminan, a researcher with the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, says he does not believe the increased risk of Yaz and Yasmin gallbladder disease found by the study is clinically significant.

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Researchers combed through a database of 2.7 million U.S. women who used contraceptives over an 18-month period. They found that all newer birth control pills carried some increased risk of gallbladder disease when compared to levonorgestrel, but the increased risk of Yaz and Yasmin gallbladder disease was twice that of any other.

Drospirenone-based birth control had a 20% increased risk of gallbladder disease, while the next highest rate went to norothindrone-based birth control pills, which carried a 10% increased risk. Desogestrel-based pills had a 5% increased risk.

However, Etminan says that while statistically significant, the differences may not be clinically significant once other factors are weighed into the findings.

The study is one of several that have indicated that Yaz and Yasmin carry more health risks for women than some other, older, birth control pills. In August 2009 a study published in the British Medical Journal found that women taking Yaz and Yasmin were twice as likely to suffer blood clots than women on levonorgestrel, and were 6.3 times more likely than women not on any form of birth control.

Bayer faces about 7,000 Yaz lawsuits and Yasmin lawsuits, which have been consolidated and centralized for pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. There are also hundreds of cases filed at the state level in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Many of the complaints involve claims filed by women who suffered gallbladder problems from Yaz or Yasmin, including many who required gallbladder removal surgery. Other claims involved in the litigation were filed over blood clot injuries, including women who have suffered a pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, heart attack or stroke.

The first Yaz gallbladder lawsuit was originally set to go to trial early next year, but that trial date will likely be postponed due to recent changes to the Yaz bellwether schedule in the MDL.

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