Yaz and Yasmin birth control pills, which contain drospirenone, were introduced to the market by Bayer in 2006. Following a strong initial marketing campaign, Yaz and Yasmin both earned top spots among the most popular oral contraceptives in the US.
However, the trend reversed sharply in 2009 as medical professionals and patients injured by the drugs’ side effects began raising doubts concerning the safety of both pills. Many Yaz and Yasmin users suffered from adverse side effects such as blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks. Although over 10,000 women filed a class-action lawsuit against Bayer, neither Bayer nor the US Food and Drug Administration have ever issued a recall.
Among the more serious injury cases were instances of deep vein thrombosis, or blood clots that form in deep veins and can dislodge and travel to the heart, lungs, or brain. This condition can result in heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms, or strokes, respectively.
In 2010, the British Medical Journal and FDA published studies concluding that the hormone drospirenone can increase the risk of blood clots by as much as 74%. Bayer has since begun settling many more of the 10,000 suits filed and is continuing to compensate patients with certain injuries.
In late 2011, the FDA organized an advisory board to scrutinize the safety risks of Yaz and Yasmin. A group vote by the board of 15 to 11 determined that the benefits of the drug still outweighed the risks of side effects. A recall was not recommended, but it was later discovered that at least four board members had financial ties to Bayer, which was coincidentally the exact amount of votes constituting the majority against the recall. These board members failed to disclose their conflicting interests prior to the vote.