Part of what made the oral contraceptive Yaz so attractive to millions of women — its ability to release excess premenstrual water weight — now may be a negative side effect that may cause several medical conditions, including gallbladder disease.
Yaz came into the U.S. market in 2006, marketed as a modern woman’s birth control pill. While it contained a similar synthetic estrogen used in previous formulations of the pill, drospirenone was new and exclusive to Yaz and its sister contraceptives.
Taken by millions of women worldwide, Yaz has been proven to increase the chances of gallbladder disease and surgical removal of the gallbladder, called cholecystectomy. Some studies say the synthetic progesterone in Yaz, drospirenone, is linked to gallbladder disease because of its diuretic effect.
Others studies say the link between Yaz and gall bladder disease is because the drug increases cholesterol levels, thus creating calcified bits of cholesterol in the gallbladder. Others still say it is because drospirenone decreases the gallbladder’s motility and impedes bile flow.
A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found that drospirenone increased a woman’s risk for developing gallbladder problems by 20 percent. The study called it a “small, statistically significant increase in the risk of gallbladder disease.” Yaz drugmaker Bayer Healthcare refutes all the research pointing to gallbladder problems, saying they are not clinically significant.
Gallbladder Disease Requires Surgery and Painful Recovery
The gallbladder is a hollow, pear-shaped organ located under the liver. Its primary function is to store and concentrate bile, a digestive liquid formed by the liver.
|There are several conditions associated with gallbladder disease:|
|Gallstones (cholelithiasis) crystallized bile can from hardened stone that can cause pain and inflammation.|
|Cholecystitis: inflammation of the gallbladder, due to gallstones.|
|Gallbladder cancer: symptoms are known to resemble gallstones.|
|Gallstone pancreatitis: when gallstones block the duct to the pancreas, the pancreas can become inflamed. This is a deadly side effect of Yaz.|
Typically, removing the gallbladder is done through laparoscopy or an abdominal incision. Removal of the gallbladder can cause fat malabsorption and diarrhea that could last for years after the surgery. There is also a risk of postcholecystectomy syndrome, which is persistent pain, gas, bloating and vomiting following gallbladder-removal surgery.
Yaz Gallbladder Disease Results in Lawsuits Against Bayer
The legal challenges against Bayer and its drug Yaz are mounting in state and federal courts. In addition to gallbladder disease, the drug has been linked to deadly pulmonary embolisms, heart attacks, blood clots and strokes, among other things. An estimated 11,000 Yaz gallbladder disease lawsuits were filed against Bayer.
A federal judge heading up the Illinois-based Yaz multidistrict litigation postponed a bellwether (test) trial that had been scheduled for January and ordered both sides to mediation. The state court cases, located in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, have been postponed, as well, awaiting the mediation outcome.
When the bellwether trials begin, Yaz pulmonary embolism cases will be the first heard with one case selected by the defendants (Bayer) and another case selected by the plaintiffs. The next round will involve women who suffered from gallbladder injuries and the final round will include blood clot injuries.