Yaz: Promised too Much

Yaz has been called “A Birth Control that Promised too Much” by the New York Times. In 2007, Yaz became the first oral contraceptive approved by the FDA for three distinct indications. It was approved to treat moderate acne, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and birth control. Marketing campaigns then produced by Bayer, makers of Yaz were misleading. The advertising campaign suggested that Yaz could treat PMS, which is different than PMDD, for which Yaz has FDA approval. In addition, the ads didn’t specify Yaz’s capacity for acne treatment. Yaz cannot treat all forms of acnes. After a crackdown, Bayer came to an agreement with the FDA and 27 State Attorneys General regarding the deceptive marketing campaign. Mayer was required submit all ads to the FDA for approval, and they were required to allocate $20 million toward a marketing campaign clearing up the misleading ads. The follow-up TV commercials point out errors in their previous advertising and alert people that Yaz cannot treat PMS or “cure pimples.” Yaz has since been the subject of lawsuits across the USA, claiming dangerous side effects such as blot clots. Lawyers suing Bayer claim their clients experienced blood clots, heart attacks and other health problems and that Bayer knew or should have known that the pills were riskier than other contraceptives. The New York Times reports the effect of Yaz and its marketing campaign on a history teacher from Ohio: She developed blood clots in both lungs and lost partial use of her right lung. “To be perfectly honest,” she said “I asked my doctor about Yaz because I had seen the commercial. It mentioned helping control your period symptoms and acne, which was very attractive to me. I didn’t think it was going to be worse than any other pill.” Legal cases continue to be filed against the makers of Yaz.

It’s estimated that over 4,000 women in the United States have taken legal action against Bayer HealthCare, the makers of Yaz and Yasmin, the popular contraceptives. And now over 800 women in Canada have also filed a class action lawsuit. Concerns about the use of Yaz and Yasmin seem to be growing. These lawsuits claim that the pill, once thought to be a newer, safer birth control is the cause of serious medical issues including deep vein thrombosis, or blood clots in the deep veins, strokes, heart attacks, gallbladder disease and pancreatitis. The problems allegedly stem from the use a synthetic progestin in the pills called drospirenone. Recently a woman from New Jersey filed a lawsuit against Bayer, claiming that the Yaz birth control pill led to a blood clot in her lungs, causing her to experience a pulmonary embolism. Her lawsuit claims that from “2004 through 2008, Yaz has reportedly caused more than 50 deaths, which occurred in some women as young as 17.” (The Madison Record). Research on the safety of drospirenone is conflicted. One study found Yaz/Yasmin was as safe as other birth control pills. But other studies revealed the risk of blood clots was drastically higher, even in young, healthy women. (LA Times) While further research is ongoing, it’s imperative that individual women consider all the information available if consider Yaz as a contraceptive option.


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