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The Fight Over Birth Control Continues

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Chicago, ILThe fight over birth control is taking on many forms in the courts, from religious groups fighting against mandated birth control to women fighting against birth control side effects. It seems everywhere one looks these days, there is a fight about birth control. Perhaps most notably are lawsuits involving Yasmin, Yaz and Beyaz side effects, which allege Beyaz birth control and similar contraceptives are linked to an increased risk of blood clots. Although some such lawsuits have been settled, more continue to be filed.

Although studies have suggested an increased risk of serious health problems, including gallbladder disease, pulmonary embolisms and strokes, in birth control that contains drospirenone, some doctors argue the relative risk is still small, making the drugs highly beneficial for women trying to prevent pregnancy. But women who have filed lawsuits allege they did not know about the risk of blood clots or strokes.

According to the Chicago Tribune (9/13/13), Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals has settled 6,760 lawsuits to the tune of approximately $1.4 billion. In doing so, the company has admitted no wrongdoing. More lawsuits could be filed.

But some critics allege that the risks of fourth-generation birth control are too high, considering that there are older contraceptives that do not carry the same risks. And some women allege they used those older contraceptives just fine but were switched to newer versions, not for their efficacy as birth control but because of the added benefits of acne treatment. In those cases, they say, the benefits of getting rid of acne are far outweighed by the risks of gallbladder problems and blood clots.

In addition to studies linking fourth-generation birth control pills to blood clots is information from Health Canada that Yaz and Yasmin were linked to 23 deaths and 600 adverse reactions. Most of the deaths, which included a woman as young as 14, according to Maclean’s (6/11/13), occurred after the women developed a blood clot. The same article noted that Health Canada has issued a warning that drospirenone-containing birth control carries anywhere from 1.5 to 3.0 times the risk of blood clots than some other contraceptives.

Health Canada did note that although the birth control was linked to the deaths there was no evidence of cause and effect because other lifestyle factors could have caused the blood clots.

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