Product News and Recalls

Yaz Settlement News–Bayer settles 500 cases for $110 million

Bayer will pay at least $110 million, or an average of about $220,000 a case, to settle about 500 lawsuits over claims that its birth control pills caused blood clots, Bloomberg reports.

The lawsuits dealt with the company’s pills containing the compound drospirenone, which include Yasmin, Yaz, Ocella and Beyaz.

According to the Bloomberg report, the settlements came after a federal judge postponed a Jan. 9 trial of a lawsuit against the pharmacy giant so a mediator could try to negotiate a settlement. Plaintiffs have filed more than 11,000 lawsuits over injuries allegedly caused by the drugs, and that was the first set for trial.

Numerous studies show that the contraceptives at issue carry a higher risk of causing potentially fatal blood clots than other kinds of birth control pills on the market. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits claim that Bayer intentionally misled women about the risks of the Yasmin line of drugs, resulting in injuries and deaths for its users.

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration changed the warning labels on the Yasmin line of contraceptives, citing the studies that show they have up to three times the risk of blood clots compared to other birth control pills.

According to the Bloomberg report, Bayer’s contraceptives generated $1.58 billion in sales in 2010.

Contrary to popular belief, the lawsuits are not considered a Yaz class action. Instead, the plaintiffs in the Yaz/Yasmin lawsuits are involved in multi-district or consolidated litigation. While the procedure is similar to a class action, there are important distinctions.

A class action derives from multiple complaints about the same injury, so all plaintiffs would get the same amount in a settlement.

In a mass tort, on the other hand, numerous plaintiffs file suit over similar, but different injuries, so individual settlements vary according to their individual cases. Multidistrict litigation occurs when the U.S. federal court system consolidates mass torts pending in different districts, in order to speed the process. In state court, this alternative to a class action is generally called a mass tort or consolidated litigation.

See the Bloomberg report here: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-04-13/bayer-said-to-pay-110-million-in-yaz-birth-control-cases