The doctor who pronounced 24-year-old Tania Hayes dead told her mother Genevieve twice that what caused Tania’s fatal blood clot was Yasmin birth control pills. “Tania wasn’t sick,” her mother told ABC News/Australia.
By all accounts, Tania, who was studying to be a teacher, was the picture of health. She is now a statistic – a piece of data culled from research studies into the safety of birth control pills, like Yasmin, that contain the hormone drospirenone.
Yasmin is one of a family of birth control pills sold by Bayer. Other oral contraceptives that contain drospirenone include Yaz, Beyaz, and Safyral. The family of pills was Bayer’s top selling drug in 2010.
All birth control pills carry a slight risk for blood clots, but a new study suggests that pills that contain drospirenone may put women at even greater risk. The news has led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada to undergo a safety review on the pills.
The study is based on about 300,000 women in the United Kingdom. Researchers found that women who were taking pills containing drospirenone were at about three times greater risk of developing blood clots in the lungs or legs than women taking oral contraceptives with an older hormone. Blood clots can cause heart attacks, strokes, and sudden death.
Bayer refuses to admit that its pills are more dangerous than others. The drug company also says its safety labeling includes a warning for blood clots. Genevieve finds this warning inadequate. “In the packet for Yasmin there’s a little booklet and it has 35 pages and on page 19 it lists the major side effects. I don’t believe Tania read it and I certainly didn’t. Because the pill is so widely accepted, you just don’t think that something might happen.”