Created by Bayer and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004, Yaz is a medication that has remained one of the leading birth control drugs for several years. However, studies reveal that not only are many women still getting pregnant while taking Yaz, but their infants are also experiencing birth defects. In addition, women who take Yaz are at risk for serious health issues.
Yaz and Health Risks
Also known as Yasmin and Ocella, Yaz is not only used for birth control, but also for acne problems and for menstrual pain. Although it was a popular drug choice for many years, several studies have indicated that taking Yaz heightens the risk of severe health issues for women, and if these women should become pregnant, as mentioned earlier, infants are at risk for severe birth defects.
Health Risks to Women
The most prominent health risk to women who to take Yaz is the risk of developing blood clots. In fact, according to a 2011 study published in the The British Medical Journal , women who take Yaz are triple times more likely to get enous thromboembolism (VTE), a serious condition in which blood clots develop in the lower legs and/or thighs. Blood clots can travel throughout the body, even into the brain, heart, and lungs. This can lead to a range of life-threatening medical problems, including:
- Heart attack
- Pulmonary embolisms
In 2012, the FDA released a public statement regarding the dangers of blood clots associated with taking Yaz.
“The revised drug labels will report that some epidemiologic studies reported as high as a three-fold increase in the risk of blood clots for drospirenone-containing products, whereas other epidemiological studies found no additional risk,” read the statement.
A study performed by the FDA concluded that at least 10 in 10,000 women who take the medication will develop blood clots, a higher risk than any other type of birth control pill.
In addition to blood clots, women taking Yaz are also at a heightened risk for high cholesterol, gall bladder problems, hypertension, liver tumors, and extremely high potassium levels.
Less serious but common side effects include:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Breast pain and swelling
- Chest pain
Yaz Risks to Infants
As aforementioned, although Yaz is prescribed as a birth control pill, many women have still become pregnant. Even worse, infants exposed to Yaz or other Class X medications while in in utero are at risk for developing birth defects, including:
- Abnormal and/or delayed bone development
- Esophageal atresia
- Abnormal sex organ development
In 2009, the FDA recalled Yaz, stating that its maker Bayer miscalculated the drug’s hormone levels. Although this is the only recall so far, a myriad of lawsuits have developed after women began experiencing a host of severe side effects. In 2010, a lawsuit was filed in Illinois on behalf of an infant who experienced experienced severe birth defects after the mother took Yaz during pregnancy.
Many of the lawsuits were settled out of court with Bayer. In fact, in 2013, Bayer settled over 6,000 cases for over $1 billion. However, several lawsuits are still pending, and the list continues to grow as more women and/or their families come forward after the medication left them devastating side effects.
Unfortunately, even with mounting evidence of the serious risks, Yaz is still being prescribed to women. In fact, some doctors have no problems giving their patients Yaz, including Dr. Barbara Soltes of Rush University Medical Center.
“I have no problem prescribing these medicines,” said Dr. Soltes, who blames the lawsuits on the drug’s recent popularity.
The FDA, however, along with an array of women who have been affected, disagree. Fortunately, the sales of Yaz have dropped significantly since 2010. Yet, it’s generic version, Gianvi, was ranked as the 4th most popular birth control pill in the United States in 2013.
Who is Liable if Serious Side Effects and Birth Defects Happen When Taking Yaz?
Although physicians such as Dr. Ross may still prescribe Yaz, they have the responsibility and duty to inform each and every patient of the potential side effects linked with the medication before prescribing it. If they fail to do so, they may be liable for any damages.
In addition, pharmaceutical companies such as Bayer have the obligation to inform the public of the dangers associated with taking the medication, and if they fail to do so, they too may be liable for any damages.