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Yasmin Risks and Litigation Update

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Dallas, TXDoctor Shezad Malik, an attorney specializing in Yasmin product liability cases and a practicing cardiologist for many years, says that all birth control pills come with an inherent risk. “There is no such thing as a free lunch, especially with the drospirenone fourth-generation birth control pills, and the risk is embolism,” says Dr. Malik.

“Anytime a woman who is on the pill starts to develop any respiratory problems, from a feeling of anxiety to tightness of the chest to shortness of breath, one of the differential diagnoses for those symptoms is pulmonary embolism. Likewise, if a woman has symptoms of pain, swelling and/or tightness in her calf muscles, again the differential diagnosis should be deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. And therein lies the problem. Young women tend to be healthy and may not cross the doctors’ diagnostic radar when she presents with chest pains or calf swelling. But physicians need to think that it could be a birth control pill side effect and complication.”

Regarding the death of Rhonda Bergen from British Columbia (reported Feb. 7, 2013), Dr. Malik adds that morbid obesity increases the risk of pulmonary embolism and DVT. Likewise, if you have a family history or problems with blood clotting. And age is a risk, especially with women over 40. And a big risk for smokers. All these attributes have to be factored into the risk/benefit ratio of women who are taking oral contraceptives, particularly those containing drospirenone. “There are many other forms of birth control that are safer, such as condoms and diaphragms. (IUDs aren’t a free ride either),” he adds.

As for the doctor at the hospital not finding pulmonary embolism on Rhonda Bergen’s x-ray, Dr. Malik adds that ordinary chest x-rays are not a diagnostic for a pulmonary embolism.

“The gold standard is an ultra-fast spiral CT Scan of the chest,” he says, “and obviously an ultrasound is required to detect a DVT. Pulmonary embolism is a clinical diagnosis based on a history of symptoms, physical exams, and special investigations including CT scan of the chest or V/Q lung scan.”

Yasmin, Yaz and Ocella Litigation Update

A settlement for Yasmin, Yaz and Ocella, manufactured by Bayer, was announced in January 2012. “They continue to proceed and I don’t know the amount of claims that have been settled to date but a significant number have been settled, mainly DVT of the leg, pulmonary embolism and cerebral vein thrombosis,” says Dr. Malik.

He says that gallbladder claims have not settled and there is no indication from Bayer that they will settle anytime soon. “Likewise for arterial embolic events, including arterial stroke and peripheral embolization, are not being considered for settlement at this time. Also, thromboembolic injuries from another oral contraceptive made by Bayer, Beyaz, is not being considered for settlement at this time.

“There is an indication that other Yaz generic drugs by the name of Gianvi, Sayeda, Loryna, and Vestura are going to be subjected to dismissal based on the Mensing decision, which basically means that generic drugs are subject to federal preemption.” In other words, you cannot sue based on failure to warn. But you can still sue Bayer.

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