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Popular Birth Control Yaz May Have Serious Risks

A recent report released by MSNBC and the Associated Press details the fact that the popular contraceptive pill, Yaz, may not be as safe as drug manufacturers originally thought.

Concerns arose with Yaz and other, newer forms of birth control when federal health scientists discovered that more recent forms of birth control treatments appear to increase the risk of potentially fatal blood clots. The study compared the latest birth control medications and their effects to symptoms and side effects associated with older forms of contraceptive drugs. The FDA’s report showed that on average, women taking Yaz had a 75% higher risk of developing a blood clot than women taking older types of contraceptive pills. A related study published earlier this week in the British Medical Journal also found that women taking Yaz and other newer medications had twice the risk of blood clots as women taking the older hormone levonorgestrel.

Bayer, a major chemical and pharmaceutical producer in the United States that is a branch of the German pharmaceutical conglomerate, manufactures Yaz. Yaz, Yasmin, and related pills containing the same hormones as found in Yaz, were Bayer’s second-most successful line of products last year, and brought in almost $1.6 billion in sales, worldwide.

Yaz, as well as a number of the newer birth control pills on the market, contains estrogen along with a next-generation synthetic hormone called drospirenone, which is known to increase potassium levels in the blood, reports MSNBC. The Food and Drug Administration’s report also expressed concern over the Ortho Evra contraceptive patch (produced by Johnson & Johnson), and the Nuvaring vaginal contraceptive ring (manufactured by Merck & Co. Inc.). All of these newer birth control medications contain synthetic hormones that have been developed in the last decade.

In fact, this isn’t the first problem the FDA has cited regarding Yaz. In 2009, the FDA required Bayer to run corrective TV commercials for Yaz, with the purpose of saying that the original marketing campaign overstated Yaz’s ability to prevent acne and premenstrual syndrome. It is very rare occurrence for the FDA to necessitate remedial advertisements, and it is a testament to the seriousness of the misinformation that the FDA demanded that Bayer take such action.

“At a certain point we have to ask why the FDA continues to approve drugs that are less safe and have no benefit compared to drugs already on the market,” said Dr. Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Women and Families, a consumer group for women’s health issues.

When corporations manufacture a product, they have the responsibility for testing that product to ensure its safety before the product is put on the market and sold to consumers. This is especially true for pharmaceutical companies whose products must undergo extensive testing before they are distributed to consumers. When a company makes a product that is defective or dangerous and that product harms the person using that product, the company may be held legally responsible for the customer’s injuries. This type of situation would give rise to an Illinois product liability lawsuit.

As it applies in this case, if it is found that the use of Yaz or other types of birth control has caused a blood clot in a consumer, and the blood clot causes serious personal injury or death, the manufacturer of the drug may be liable for damages from the product’s hazardous effects. In Illinois wrongful death cases a victim’s family members and loved ones may sometimes recover for the loss of companionship and the loss of future wages caused by the early death.

Although the FDA’s report didn’t state a final conclusion on the safety of Yaz, the Agency plans to hold a meeting with scientific advisers on December 8 of this year to evaluate the potential danger of the drug.