Bayer isn’t backing down. The pharmaceutical giant that is making billions off sales of it’s popular birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin, says two new studies that suggest the company’s oral contraceptives put women at greater risk for blood clots than older generation pills, are flawed.
“Given the already large and robust scientific body of evidence, in Bayer’s opinion, these studies do not change the overall assessment about the safety of Bayer’s oral contraceptives,” the company said in a statement.
Yaz and Yasmin are considered “fourth generation” birth control pills and use the hormones ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone. Bayer heavily marketed the pills, even touting Yaz as a cure-all of sorts for bothersome PMS symptoms and acne. The Food and Drug Administration ordered Bayer to rerun the ads, toning down its PMS claims (the drug was approved to also help ease symptoms of the more serious premenstrual dysphoric disorder, PMDD, but not PMS) and specifically outlining the risks associated with the pills, including the risk for life threatening blood clots.
Bayer has since been slapped with lawsuits from women and their families who have suffered from blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, gallbladder damage, and even death after using the pills. Bayer has long argued that Yaz and Yasmin are no more dangerous than other birth control pills.
All oral contraceptives carry a risk for blood clots, and lawsuits have maintained that Bayer’s pills put women at even greater risk. Previous studies that suggested as much were dismissed by Bayer. But two new studies back up plaintiffs’ claims, showing women who took contraceptives with drospirenone had more than twice the risk of developing blood clots than women on a hormone used in older generation pills, levonorgestrel.
Bayer still refuses to accept the blame. According to its statement, “Bayer’s assessment, (of the studies) based on its review to date, is that the manner in which the authors applied the study methodology reported in these two publications show significant flaws and the databases used provide less reliable conclusions than are available from existing scientific evidence around the risk of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE), or blood clots, with combination oral contraceptives (COCs).”