Oral contraceptives manufactured by Bayer Healthcare which were licensed for use here by the Irish Medicines Board in 2008 are being blamed for causing serious side effects such as blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and in some cases sudden death
The contraceptive pills called Yaz and Yasmin are combined oral contraceptives that contain ethinyl estradiol, long used in oral contraceptives and drospirenone, a synthetic hormone. The drugs were advertised widely as helping to clear up acne, relieve premenstrual irritability and prevent pregnancy.
The pills were approved by US regulators in 2001 and were considered an advance over older forms of oral contraceptives because they were taken for 24 days instead of the usual 21, which was believed to create less hormonal fluctuation.
Early on however, there were concerns about the health risks associated with drospirenone and consumers were warned that drospirenone caused elevated blood levels of potassium, which could trigger serious heart problems. .
Over 6,000 women have now started legal proceedings in the USA claiming that they suffered serious injuries from their use of these drugs and that Bayer provided inadequate warnings about the health risks of taking the pills.
In one case, a teenager in the USA, Ms. Michelle Pfleger died in 2010 of pulmonary embolism. She died after a blood
clot lodged in her lung, causing her to go into cardiac arrest as she made her way to class at college. Her mother, Joan Cummins has now filed a law suit against Bayer Healthcare, alleging that the birth control pill caused her 18 year old daughters death.
The company has rejected the claims stating that the contraceptives are safe and effective when used as directed and according to good clinical practice. They claim that the side effects are warned about in the labelling for both drugs.
Speaking today, Liam Moloney, Healthcare Lawyer said “women should be warned of the risks associated with the use of these drugs. The Medicines Board should alert women to the fact that mass litigation is pending in the US concerning these contraceptive pills”.