The Yaz and Yasmin litigation is just now starting to take off, with at least 11 lawsuits around the country. Lawyers evaluating Yaz/Yasmin cases need to pay particular attention to (1) the injuries; (2) the defendants; and (3) viable claims.
Yaz and Yasmin are the only two birth control medications on the market (aside from Yaz generics) that contain the fourth generation progestin component drospirenone. Like other birth control medications, Yaz and Yasmin are combination oral drugs that use estrogen and progestin hormones. Most other birth control medications use a progestin that has been time-tested. Medical literature indicates that Yaz and Yasmine’s drospirenone increases potassium levels, which can disrupt heart rhythms, slow down blood flow, and cause clots. Those clots (thrombus) may lead to significant injuries, including strokes, heart attacks and pulmonary emboli. The FDA received over 50 reports of Yaz/Yasmin related deaths between the first quarter of 2004 and the third quarter of 2008.
Yaz and Yasmin are manufactured by Bayer. But Yaz/Yasmin lawyers must know lawsuits are not so simple as to have one defendant, however. Bayer, like most drug companies, has a complex organizational structure, and has in the past gobbled up other implicated drug companies. The drug Yasmin was initially manufactured by Berlex Laboratories, Inc. and/or Berlex, Inc. Berlex was acquired by Bayer in 2006, which then began manufacturing and marketing an extremely similar drug, Yaz. Bayer itself has a number of corporations that should be named as defendants, including:
Bayer Healthcare LLC
Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, LLC
Bayer Pharmaceuticals Corporation
Bayer Schering Pharma, AG
These last two are foreign entities, so pay attention to the rules regarding service (and the ever-dreaded application of the Hague convention rules). In addition, you may consider whether it is appropriate to name sales representatives—Yaz was heavily marketed, and your client’s physician may be able to tell you what he or she was told about Yaz. If there is any information indicating that the doctor relied on faulty information from the sales representative, the rep should be included in the suit.
The generic of Yaz, Ocella, is manufactured by Barr Laboratories, Inc. Lawsuits against Barr should include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., which acquired Barr in late 2008. Other related Barr entities may include Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Duramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Of course, claims against the manufactures of Yasmin and Yaz should follow the product liability laws applicable to the jurisdiction. In general, however, complaints should include the following counts:
Strict Product Liability
Breach of Warranty claims
Consumer Claims, if applicable
The misrepresentation counts are particularly viable here in light of the FDA’s castigation of Barr over their Yaz ads. Bayer recently started a new advertising campaign to correct earlier bad marketing, which inappropriately indicated Yaz could be used to cure premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and acne, while downplaying health risks.
If you or a loved one has used Yasmin/Yaz and have suffered from blood clots, stroke, DVT, heart attack or gallbladder injury or you are a lawyer with a Yasmin/Yaz case for which you would co-counsel, please call one of our Yasmin/Yaz attorneys at 800-553-8082.