Yaz, or drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol, was first introduced to the US consumer in 2006. (It’s precursor, Yasmin was introduced in 2001.) Yaz prevents ovulation and cause changes in a woman’s cervical and uternine lining, thus making it harder for sperm to reach the uterus and harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus. (Copied word for word from drugs.com – there is a reason why I did not go to medical school.)
Marketed and sold by Bayer pharmaceuticals as contraception, in 2006 the FDA approved Yaz to treat moderate acne in pubescent women in addition to symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), including anxiety, depression, lack of energy, headache and weight gain. Yaz also was reported to not cause some of the side effects associated with similar forms of oral contraceptive, including bloating and weight gain. As such, by 2008 Yaz was the best-selling birth control in the U.S. with sales totaling $781 million in 2009.
Yasmin and Yaz were the first birth control pills to use drospirenone, a form of progestin. However, the hormone drospirenon has been the subject of heated litigation due to reports of deaths, strokes, pulmonary embolism, gallbladder diseases, elevated potassium levels and a myriad of other health risks. Bayer AG, the German chemical and pharmaceutical company, who interestingly enough marketed heroin in 1895, has spent $1.4 billion dollars settling 6,760 U.S. claims. As of July 2013, 5,400 claims of injuries related to Yasmin, Yaz and other generic versions of the drug remained pending in the U.S. alone. 2,800 of the unsettled claims involve allegations of blood clots, again attributed to the hormone drospirenone. Moreover, Bayer has set aside $24 million for an additional 8,800 U.S. plaintiffs alleging gallbladder injuries, despite Bayer denying fault for these allegations.
I am proud to report that this week, Aronfeld Trial Lawyers settled one of those 5,400 claims on behalf of our Yaz client. It was my first Mass Tort and Product Liability case and subsequent settlement as a young lawyer. When Spencer Aronfeld first approached me and asked me to take on some of his firm’s Mass Tort and Product Liability cases, I was both excited and nervous. Excited because it was a unique opportunity to practice in an area not many other young lawyers are able to practice in. Nervous because I knew little about the claims process or how long it would take to actually reach a settlement. But with Spencer’s guidance and support, countless hours of research by our law clerk, and a plethora of electronic exchanges with our client, the claim was filed. Three months later, I smiled upon receipt of the email notifying me that our client’s claim had finally settled. As a young lawyer, there is no greater joy than knowing I am accomplishing the goal I set out to accomplish when I first decided to become a lawyer; fight to make the world a better and safer place, one client at a time.