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Now a New Concern Over Yasmin Birth Control

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Vancouver, BCWhen Bayer AG revealed back in April that it had settled several hundred lawsuits related to sometimes-fatal blood clots associated with Yasmin birth control and its close cousin Yaz for $142 million, the pharmaceutical giant may not have been aware of new research that suggests a new concern over the new-age contraceptives: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

As reported this past February in Current Drug Safety (2/1/12) Canadian researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have found a link between Yaz and Yasmin (and other contraceptives containing the synthetic progestin drospirenone, or DRSP) and IBS.

This, in addition to known Yasmin and Yaz side effects includin blood clots. Bayer has always maintained that Yasmin and Yaz do not carry a greater risk for blood clot, also known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT, than any other oral contraceptive. Various studies however, have suggested otherwise.

The risk for, and incidence of blood clot has been the primary motivator for thousands of Yaz lawsuits and similar litigation involving Yasmin after women were harmed or lost their lives, allegedly due to their use of the Bayer contraceptive products.

Now, the potential for IBS injects a new wrinkle, and perhaps another source of litigation.

Researcher Mayhar Etminan and colleagues at UBC noted in their research that of 939,281 women averaging 29.1 years of age and undertaking 247 days of oral contraceptive use, 3,050 incident cases of IBS were found.

"Our study found a positive association between drospirenone and a diagnosis of IBS that was not observed with other OCs," the study authors concluded.

IBS can be a debilitating condition that can affect an individual's livelihood and career. Thus, it will be interesting to see if IBS lawsuits will take their place beside litigation alleging Yaz side effects and Yasmin DVT, over the ensuing years.

Last April, an analyst with JPMorgan Chase & Co. predicted that Bayer might be looking at a $2.65 billion price tag to settle all of the outstanding cases over Yasmin birth control. The emergence of a new adverse reaction—the potential for IBS—could drive that cost even higher.

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