Yaz: The Bayer Facts

In the age of modern medicine, people may perceive that they have a right to expect that a particular pharmaceutical drug will not cause them any harm, despite the fact that almost all prescriptions come with a laundry list of potential side effects. When drugs do far more harm than good, however, it falls upon private attorneys to go up against well-fortified drug companies in court to find out who is liable.

More Harm Than Good

Ashia Moore of Inkster, Michigan, is one of the 1,100-plus people who are suing Bayer over injuries she says were caused by the birth control pill Yaz, or Yasmin. A fourth-generation form of birth control, Yaz contains contain drospirenone (which plaintiffs contend leads to perilously high levels of potassium). In Ms. Moore’s case, she developed thrombosis – blood clots – in her legs and lungs. She also blames the drug for the loss of her gall bladder.

Shouldn’t Be Rocket Science

Bayer is also under fire in Canada, with two class-action lawsuits pending, and their defense in these cases will boil down to decisions made by their accountants. It won’t be easy for them to defend against such claims when they were warned by the Food and Drug Administration as far back as 2008 that their advertising was misleading. Bayer had to spend $20 million in corrective advertising and agreed to submit future commercial content to the FDA for approval over the next six years.

That came about way too late for Ms. Moore, though, who first began taking Yaz in 2004. One can only wonder why a large company like Bayer would have ever risked such suits when it switched from older birth control formulas that have been proven to be effective without the potential for such harm. Michigan law leans heavily in favor of pharmaceutical companies in this regard, and many other litigants are watching carefully to determine the likelihood of success in future lawsuits in the state.