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YAZ Birth Control Side Effects and Lawsuits

Yaz is a popular birth control pill manufactured by Bayer Healthcare. The pill can also be prescribed to treat moderate acne as well as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). In addition to Yaz, Bayer produces Yasmin and Beyaz -- two birth control pills that are nearly identical to Yaz. Generic versions of Yaz are sold under the names Ocella, Gianvi, and Sayeda.

Side Effects Associated with Yaz

As with any prescription drug, taking Yaz may cause women to experience unintended physical symptoms, or side effects. Bayer has disclosed some mild side effects associated with Yaz such as nausea and weight gain. In addition, many women have experienced serious health complications, including:

  • Blood clots
  • High blood pressure
  • Breast cancer
  • Heart attack

Although Bayer has stated that these side effects occur very infrequently in young women, thousands of women or their families have filed lawsuits related to these and other serious complications.

Increased Risk of Blood Clots

The most common complaint in Yaz lawsuits is that drospirenone -- one of the synthetic hormones in Yaz -- allegedly caused blood clots to develop in women who took the pill. A blood clot occurs when blood coagulates to form a solid mass within a vein or artery. While nearly all birth control pills carry a risk of blood clots, some reports have suggested that women taking Yaz and other drugs containing drospirenone are two to three times more likely to develop clots than those taking other birth control pills. Although blood clots are not necessarily dangerous, they have the potential to cause serious and immediate harm to women if they develop in or reach certain parts of the body.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot develops in the deep veins of the body, typically in the legs. Deep-vein clots can easily break free and travel through the vein to the rest of the body. A clot that becomes lodged in another part of the body can disrupt the flow of blood, potentially causing two other serious conditions, pulmonary embolism and stroke.

Pulmonary Embolism

A blood clot that forms in one part of the body can travel to another part. This is called an embolus. When an embolus becomes lodged in an artery of a lung it can form a pulmonary embolism, which may cause difficulty breathing, chest pain, or even a heart attack. Many lawsuits have alleged that Bayer was aware that women taking Yaz are at a higher risk of pulmonary embolism but failed to warn of this risk.

Stroke

A stroke is the rapid loss of brain functions caused by a clot blocking blood flow to the brain. It can lead to traumatic injury or even death. Stroke sufferers are often left partially paralyzed and unable to speak normally. A number of women under 35 have filed lawsuits against Bayer claiming they suffered a stroke after taking Yaz, but were not sufficiently warned of this risk.

FDA Warnings About Yaz Side Effects

Since Yaz was first introduced in 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has responded periodically to reports of the drug's side effects. In 2008, the FDA warned Bayer that television commercials for Yaz did not adequately warn women about the risk of serious and life-threatening side effects. Then in 2012, the FDA required labels for birth control pills containing drospirenone warning that the pills may carry a heightened risk of blood clots. However, despite releasing several public warnings about these side effects, the FDA has not yet issued a Yaz recall.

Yaz Side Effect Lawsuits

Thousands of women have filed lawsuits claiming they suffered serious side effects after taking Yaz. Many suits were filed in state courts, with Pennsylvania and New Jersey alone having hundreds of Yaz cases each. In federal courts, so many Yaz lawsuits are pending that they have been consolidated in one court in Illinois for pre-trial proceedings.

This process is called Multi-District Litigation, or MDL, and it is different from a class-action lawsuit. In MDL, each plaintiff has an individual lawsuit against the manufacturer. As of late 2013, Bayer has paid over $750 million to settle over 3,000 Yaz lawsuits involving injuries from DVT or pulmonary embolism. Bayer however has not admitted liability in settling any of these cases.

Liability for Injuries from Side Effects

Many Yaz lawsuits have claimed that Bayer failed to adequately warn patients and physicians about the increased risk of serious side effects associated with Yaz as compared to other types of oral contraceptives. Some women have also sued Bayer for fraudulent misrepresentation, claiming that consumers were misled into taking Yaz because Bayer allegedly exaggerated the benefits of the pill. Others have filed breach of warranty suits, alleging the drug was not reasonably safe for its intended uses.

Liability for Wrongful Death

Yaz lawsuits have also been filed by the relatives of women who died after taking the drug. Under wrongful death laws, surviving family members, including spouses and parents, can sue the person or entity responsible for their loved one's death. In a successful wrongful death suit, surviving relatives can receive compensation for the loss of companionship, any medical or funeral expenses, and the loss of the deceased's financial support.

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