There are nearly 10,000 lawsuits pending in multidistrict litigation in federal court in Illinois over personal injuries allegedly caused by the contraceptive drugs Yasmin and Yaz.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) said that 9,961 actions were pending in the Yasmin/Yaz MDL as of May 14. The MDL is No. 2100 in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois. Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals is the manufacturer of both Yasmin, which received FDA approval in 2001, and Yaz, which was approved by the FDA in 2006. Both drugs are oral contraceptives that combine a fourth generation progestin, drospirenone, with estrogen to prevent pregnancy.
The lawsuits against Bayer allege that the plaintiffs developed serious medical issues caused by their use of Yasmin or Yaz. The injuries include gall bladder complications, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, heart blockage and blood clots.
Bayer Pharmaceuticals said in its February 28, 2013 annual report that it had reached agreements to settle the claims of about 4,800 U.S. plaintiffs, for a total amount of approximately $1 billion. The settlements do not include an admission of liability.
In March, Reuters reported that Bayer agreed to settle several state lawsuits in New Jersey, California and Pennsylvania that alleged that gall bladder injuries were caused by Yasmin or Yaz. The settlement reportedly called for plaintiffs who suffered gall bladder injuries to be paid $2,000 and plaintiffs who had their gall bladders removed to be paid $3,000.
In June, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that Health Canada documents showed that Yasmin and Yaz are suspected in the deaths of women who died suddenly from blood clots. Health Canada is the Canadian equivalent of the FDA in the United States. In April of last year, the agency issued a warning informing consumers about blood clotting as a possible side effect of Yaz and Yasmin.
The Health Canada document said that doctors and pharmacists had reported 23 deaths and more than 600 adverse reactions associated with Yasmin or Yaz. The adverse reactions were reported between 2007 and February 2013. More than half of the deaths were of women under the age of 26, with the youngest being 14. The report came shortly after a Canadian judge certified a class-action lawsuit alleging that the drugs caused life-threatening blood clots.
In April 2012 the FDA issued a similar warning, saying that drospirenone-containing birth control drugs may be associated with a higher risk of blood clots.