Shades of Lucretia Borgia. According to legend, the daughter of the infamous Pope Alexander VI was known for her skills with, and use of, various poisons.
Drospirenone might have been something Lucretia would come up with. It is known to raise the body's potassium levels to the point that a condition known as hyperkalemia results – which can cause fatal heart attacks. It's also been connected with a two-fold increase in the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) as well as deep vein thrombosis, which blood clots that form in the blood vessels – causing potentially fatal strokes. In some cases, those clots can form very quickly – within weeks of ingesting it. Aside from that, there are strong indications that drospirenone can result in disease of the gall bladder in younger women.
You may not have heard of drospirenone, but you have probably heard of some of the prescriptions that contain this synthetic hormone. In combination with the estrogen ethinyl estradiol, it is a primary ingredient in the oral contraceptive Yasmin, also known as Yaz. The manufacturer: Bayer, originator of aspirin, marketer of HIV-tainted blood products in the developing world as well as a dangerous anti-coagulant medication.
It never seems to stop with this company, which was also involved in “medical experiments” on concentration camp internees during the Second World War. (The head of the company at that time served only three years of a seven-year sentence for war crimes – and was back in his old job soon after.)
Yaz, Yasmin, Safyral (Bayer products) as well as Ocella (a generic version from Teva Phamaceuticals) were marketed as the “fourth-generation” of contraceptives; additionally, they have been prescribed “off-label” to treat the effects of menopause as well as acne and osteoporosis.
Injury lawsuits continue to pile up. Yaz was introduced in 2006; within six years, there were 12,000 lawsuits filed against the manufacturer. Causes of action include failure to warn, breach of warranty and wrongful death. Most of these have been consolidated into multi-district litigation (MDL) before the Honorable Judge David Herndon of the Southern District of Illinois. These cases have had some difficulty moving forward; according to Judge Herndon, Bayer's defense attorneys have been employing a range of delaying tactics – which he says are intended to wear down the plaintiffs. These include claims that some plaintiffs never used the product, and that a number of them have duplicate cases pending.
Judge Herndon has nonetheless ordered 33 of the cases to go forward as “bellwether trials” (which will set precedents and give indications of how future litigation will play out). These are tentatively scheduled to begin in May of 2015. Another case, Schuchert v. Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals) will go to trial before Judge Herndon on 15 June, 2015.
For more information on the Yaz litigation, visit Levin Papantonio Yaz Lawsuit web site.