Product News and Recalls

Bayer Yaz fund to cover uninsured legal costs

The $610.5 million Bayer set aside for Yasmin-related lawsuits this quarter is to pay the company’s costs beyond what insurance will cover for legal fees and accords, including cases that haven’t been settled, Bloomberg reports. The German drug maker isn’t disclosing the amount of its insurance coverage.

That $610.5 million indicates that the company is anticipating more payouts from its Yasmin line of birth control pills, because that amount is more than double the previous reserve for legal costs from Yasmin suits.

Since 2009, Bloomberg reports, Bayer has faced a wave of litigation over the pills – which include Yasmin, Yaz, Beyaz and Ocella.

In a recent newsletter to stockholders, Bayer executives say the company has faced more than 12,000 lawsuits over the Yasmin line of contraceptives, including claims that they caused blood clots. So far, the company has agreed to settle 1,877 cases in which women blame the company’s contraceptives for causing clots in their veins.

Lawyers suing the company cited FDA reports of at least 50 deaths tied to the pills from 2004 to 2008. Plaintiffs’ lawyers contend in court filings that Bayer officials marketed the contraceptives for unapproved uses and misled women about their risks.

The cases filed in federal courts were consolidated before U.S. District Judge David Herndon in East St. Louis, Illinois, for pretrial proceedings.

Herndon scheduled a series of trials so juries could begin weighing claims that Bayer and its units marketed Yaz and other contraceptives as safer than rivals’ products while knowing they posed a higher clot risk.

The stockholder newsletter said settlements of U.S. lawsuits over Yasmin have increased to more than $402 million, for an average of about $212,000 a case.

The Bloomberg report quotes Michael Burg, a Denver-based lawyer, as saying Bayer has refused to settle cases alleging the contraceptives also caused clots in women’s arteries.

“Those cases involve some of the more serious injuries and we look forward to trying them,” Burg said.

Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with a Beyaz lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries while on Beyaz or similar birth control pills.

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