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Yaz Linked to an Increased Risk of Stroke

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Studies show that Yaz birth control pills increase the risk of blood clots, which can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.

Birth control pills have long been associated with an elevated risk of stroke, but an increasing number of studies now show that Yaz, once the best-selling oral contraceptive in the nation, puts women at an even higher risk of having a stroke than first thought. Marketed not only as birth control, but also as a way to combat premenstrual problems including depression and acne, Yaz came onto the market in 2006. The drug included synthetic estrogen and a newly introduced progestin known as drospirenone. Introduced in the 1960s, birth control pills have long been linked to ischemic strokes, which happen when the blood supply to the brain becomes blocked. Researchers found that the fluctuating estrogen levels in early generations of birth control pills were linked to blood clots and strokes. If you or a loved one has experienced serious side effects after taking Yaz, you may be eligible for financial compensation. A lawyer with experience in dangerous drug cases can explain your legal options and help you file a claim if you qualify.

Stroke Risk May Increase Sevenfold for Yaz Users

Even today, women taking oral contraceptives who smoke, are over age 35, have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol double their odds of suffering a stroke compared to women not taking the pill. For women taking Yaz, the risk of stroke is alarming. A Dutch study released in August 2009 found that women taking pills made with drospirenone were nearly seven times more likely to develop serious blood clots compared to women not taking the pill. Since then, dozens of researchers have also found that drospirenone significantly increases the chances of developing venous thromboembolic events (VTE), or blood clots. After developing in the deep body veins, these blood clots are known to break off and travel to the brain. When this happens, a stroke is imminent. The drug maker, Bayer, refutes the studies, claiming there is no evidence of increased VTE risk. However, unsealed federal court documents show that Bayer has not been truthful in its safety data concerning Yasmin, the sister drug to Yaz. The documents show that “Bayer presented a selective view of the data and that presentation obscured the potential risks associated with Yasmin.” Yaz and Yasmin are nearly identical drugs, except Yaz contains less estrogen. Yaz has been associated with dozens of deaths.

FDA Steps In

When the FDA decided in September 2011 to step forward and convene an advisory panel to review the Yaz claims, health-care advocates and women’s groups were thrilled. But the excitement was short lived. By a four-vote margin, the committee decided the drug was safe enough to keep on the shelves. Within days of the decision, a watchdog group raised questions about the ties some members of the committee had with Bayer. The group has asked the FDA to throw out the vote and assemble a new advisory committee.

Yaz Stroke Lawsuits

An increasing number of women have sued Bayer and its affiliates for stroke-related medical conditions. In one California case, a 39-year-old woman suffered such a severe stroke after taking Yaz that doctors needed to remove part of her skull and brain to save her life. Susan Galinis had only been on Yaz for four weeks when she suffered her debilitating stroke. After being hospitalized for around six months, she has nearly no short-term memory and an IQ near mental retardation. Her doctors told her that Yaz caused her stroke. Bayer has quietly settled 70 pending court cases, but thousands of other complaints are pending in state and federal courts nationwide. All the federal litigation, about 8,000 cases in total, has been centralized for pretrial proceeding in a multidistrict litigation held in Illinois. Hundreds more cases are consolidated in a Pennsylvania state court.