When Bayer Healthcare launched its new style birth control pills Yasmin and Yaz in 2001 and 2006, respectively, the drugs were marketed under the guise that they were safer than other oral contraceptives. Formulated with a synthetic hormone and containing a diuretic, drospirenone, the pills were touted as having an added benefit of clearing up problem acne and easing the symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). But the honeymoon has ended for Bayer, which is now facing more than a thousand lawsuits from women who said they were not adequately warned that the pills could cause serious and life-threatening health problems such as blood clots and gallbladder problems.
Research on the safety of the active ingredients in Yaz and Yasmin has offered mixed results. Some studies found drospirenone to be no more dangerous than other birth control pills, while other tests put the risk of getting blood clots – even in young, healthy women – as high as six times greater.
“There is reason to be concerned, I believe, about both of them [Yaz and Yasmin],” Dr. Sidney Wolfe, founder and director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., told the Los Angeles Times. “When evidence like that comes up, people should pay attention to it.”
Bayer Healthcare response? To keep mum. In statements to the press, Bayer still stands by its oral contraceptives saying they are no more dangerous than other birth control pills.