Product News and Recalls

Bayer in-house ad ridicules Yaz users

The FDA ordered Bayer, maker of the Yasmin line of birth control pills, to create TV commercials specifically for the purpose of correcting misinformation included in previous ads.

According to Rick’s Blog, Bayer executives used the occasion to produce a spoof ad intended to be shown only in-house, ridiculing birth control pill users as irresponsible and promiscuous.

The blog provides some background on the situation, noting that more than 6,800 lawsuits have been filed on behalf of people who allegedly suffered injury as a result of taking the birth control pills – including 50 who died.

Numerous studies show that women taking oral contraceptives with the compound drospirenone have up to three times the risk of suffering a potentially fatal blood clot as women taking other types of birth control pills.

Pills with drospirenone include Yasmin, Yaz, Ocella and Beyaz.

The original ads marketed Yaz as a “lifestyle drug” that could treat acne and premenstrual syndrome, while downplaying the risks.

Attorney generals from 27 states determined that the campaign was deceptive. The FDA agreed in 2008 that Yaz had not been shown to be effective for common PMS and that Yaz’s effectiveness in treating acne was “misleadingly overstate(d).”

Shortly after, Bayer reached a settlement with the FDA that where it committed to spending at least $20 million on corrective advertisements.

The in-house spoof for Bayer executives features the same set and actress as the serious ad. But the actress, pretending to be drunk, refers to recent Yaz commercials that were “really not clear” and says “the FDA wants us to correct a few points in those ads.”

She goes on to recommend “Yaz with a couple Red Bulls and vodka” for pregnancy prevention, and says she does it “all the time.” She complains that she has two kids at home, and recommends avoiding pregnancy by taking “the meds without the vodka and Red Bull.”

See the blog here (language warning):