More teenagers are using birth control pills than ever before, and by far the most popular brand they are choosing is Yaz, according to a new study by Thomson Reuters. But some worry that using Bayer Healthcare’s blockbuster oral contraceptive may be putting those young girls at greater risk for serious health problems.
The data involved more than 3 million women from 2002 to 2009. The women ranged in age from 13 to 33 with at least six months of enrollment in insurance and prescription drug coverage. The study found that 18 percent of teenage girls ages 13 to 18 filled prescriptions for birth control pills in 2009, up year after year since 2002. This was a 50 percent increase among commercially insured teenagers and a 29 percent increase among teenagers on Medicaid. The No. 1 choice in birth control pills among teenaged women was Yaz.
When Yaz was first approved for marketing in the United States it was touted as more than for pregnancy prevention. Bayer’s ads said the oral contraceptive could quell irritability caused by premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and manage breakouts of acne. It wasn’t long before women began asking for the pill by name, and it became the top selling birth control pill in America.
But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) soon caught wind of those ads, and ordered Bayer to run a series of commercials to clarify that the pill was not approved for PMS, but for the more serious premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD. Bayer was also told to clearly state the risks associated with the drug, including the risk for blood clots, heart attacks, strokes and gallbladder damage.
While all birth control pills carry a risk for blood clots, studies began to suggest that Yaz, a combination of ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone, put women at an even greater risk for the serious side effects. As a result, thousands of women and their loved ones have filed lawsuits against Bayer arguing they were not warned of the dangerous and life-threatening risks associated with Yaz.