In December 2011, the FDA convened an advisory panel to look into the safety and effectiveness of birth control medications that contain drospirenone. Those include Yasmin, Yaz, Beyaz and Safyral, all made by Bayer AG; although there are some versions from generic companies. The concern is about the potential increased risk of blood clotting in women who use contraceptives that contain drospirenone.
The advisory panel was asked to determine whether the benefits of the drugs outweigh the risks. In a 15 to 11 vote, the panel found that the benefits still outweigh the risks, although it is notable that the vote only barely passed. Some critics argue that there is older birth control available to women that is just as effective as drospirenone birth control but does not carry the same serious risks.
Meanwhile, the panel voted overwhelmingly, 21 to 5, that the birth control labels should be updated to provide clearer warnings about the risk of blood clots.
The advisory panel only makes recommendations to the FDA, which then decides whether or not to follow the panel's suggestions. Before making its recommendations, the committee heard testimony by family members of young women whose deaths were allegedly caused by birth control that contains drospirenone.
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The FDA will make a decision about drospirenone birth control in the coming months. Although studies disagree on whether or not drospirenone is linked to an increased risk of blood clots, a Reuters (12/08/11) article notes that according to experts on the panel, only Bayer-sponsored studies found Yasmin as safe as other oral contraceptives. An FDA review found that women who took Yasmin had approximately two times the risk of developing a venous thrombotic event or arterial thrombotic event as women on other forms of birth control, Reuters reports.