Bayer AG, the maker of Yasmin birth control pills, has paid approximately $142 million to settle more than 650 lawsuits involving Yasmin and Yaz, two of its most popular products. These lawsuits alleged that the birth control pills caused such things as pulmonary embolisms and blood clots that are, or could be, potentially fatal.
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A Bayer AG stockholders newsletter included the April 2012 settlement figure regarding Yasmin and Yaz and noted that the average settlement was approximately $218,000 per case, according to Bloomberg News. The publication also reported that Yaz is a hugely popular birth control medication – the fourth most popular oral contraceptive available – and it helped Bayer earn more than $1.5 billion in sales in 2010.
Yasmin and Yaz are oral contraceptive pills that contain drospirenone, ethinyl and estradiol. The central and perhaps simplest difference between them is that a package of Yaz comes with 24 active pills and four inactive pills, while a package of Yasmin includes 21 active pills and seven inactive pills.
Although the German-based drug manufacturer settled certain lawsuits, the company has not said it has done anything wrong.
In an ABC News report, Bayer spokeswoman Rose Talarico said, "Based on a thorough assessment of the available scientific data, Bayer believes that its drospirenone-containing products are safe and effective and have a favorable benefit-risk profile when used in accordance with U.S. product labeling."
A number of studies have linked blood clots associated with these drugs to a potentially greater risk of having a stroke. In addition, for some consumers, there appears to be a greater potential of deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in a deep vein) and injuries from a pulmonary embolism (blockage in the main artery of a lung or one of its branches). Such injuries can damage lungs.
In the United States, there still are approximately 11,900 lawsuits involving Yasmin and Yaz that include around 14,000 plaintiffs, Bloomberg News reported. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has directed Bayer AG to change the labels on Yaz and Yasmin to include stronger warnings regarding the potential risk for blood clots.
The widely used medications are intended for consumption as contraceptive drugs, but doctors often prescribe them as part of a treatment regimen for severe acne in females that, in many cases, has been shown to be quite successful. The medications have earned Bayer billions in sales. Although sales have dropped somewhat after recent publicity regarding allegations of potential blood clotting problems, the drugs still are widely prescribed and used by millions of women.
Yaz and Yasmin, which are both oral contraceptives, are the focal points in thousands of lawsuits that allege these medications have caused such things as pulmonary embolisms and blood clots, some of which have been fatal. Manufacturer Bayer AG has rejected allegations that its contraceptives caused these medical conditions, although it has settled a number of these suits and litigation is continuing. Meanwhile, Yaz and Yasmin continue to be prescribed and used by millions of women for contraception.