Product News and Recalls

Yaz/Beyaz Settlements: $220,000 average could cost Bayer

Bayer could end up paying billions of dollars settling lawsuits alleging that the German corporation’s Yasmin line of birth control pills caused blood clots.

In a settlement involving 500 lawsuits, news reports are claiming that the company is paying at least $110 million – amounting to about $220,000 a case.

In light of the fact that about 11,000 more lawsuits have been filed over injuries allegedly caused by the pills, the total cost could come to about $2.4 billion if the settlement amounts remain in that range. (This is a rough estimate because the $220,000 average likely applies to blood clot cases only, and a large percentage of the 11,000 remaining cases involve gallbladder disease, which will likely settle for different amounts.)

The lawsuits involve birth control pills containing the compound drospirenone, including Yasmin, Yaz, Beyaz and Ocella. Plaintiffs, who are backed by a number of studies, claim that those contraceptives cause a significantly higher number of potentially fatal blood clots than other available types of birth control pills, and that the company intentionally concealed that risk from users.

Bayer has reported a 90 percent increase in profits in 2011, compared to the previous year – amounting to about $3.4 billion.

In comparison, Merck & Co. paid a $4.85 billion settlement to the families of people who suffered heart attacks and strokes as a result of using its pain killer Vioxx. And Johnson & Johnson has spent at least $68.7 million in settling hundreds of lawsuits filed by women who suffered blood clots, heart attacks or strokes after using the company’s Ortho Evra birth-control patch.