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Health Canada Documents Link Yasmin and Yaz to Deaths

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Toronto, CanadaHealth Canada (similar to the US Food and Drug Administration) has reportedly linked Yasmin birth control and Yaz birth control to at least 23 deaths in the country, and approximately 600 adverse reactions. Lawsuits have been filed against Bayer, maker of Yasmin and Yaz, alleging Yasmin side effects harmed women who used the contraception. One Yasmin lawsuit has been certified class action in Canada, with other lawsuits filed in the US.

According to CBC News (6/11/13), documents obtained from Health Canada showed approximately 600 adverse reactions linked to women who used Yasmin or Yaz between 2007 and February 28, 2013. Of those, 333 reports involved women using Yasmin and 267 reports involved women using Yaz. The adverse reactions included non-fatal pulmonary embolisms, non-fatal blood clots and fainting.

At least 23 women died after using the birth control, with 15 of those taking Yasmin and eight taking Yaz. The youngest to die was a 14-year-old, while more than half of those who died were under the age of 26. The documents reported that the majority of those who died did so suddenly after they developed blood clots. In some cases, the women reportedly suffered a pulmonary embolism, while in others the blood clots traveled to the brain.

Fourth-generation oral contraceptives - which include Yasmin and Yaz - contain drospirenone, which is a synthetic version of progestin. They have been linked in studies to an increased risk of blood clots, especially when compared with older forms of birth control. Both Health Canada and the FDA have issued warnings about the risk of blood clots associated with the contraceptives.

Meanwhile, lawsuits have been filed in the US and Canada alleging women were seriously harmed by the use of Yasmin and Yaz, and that Bayer failed to adequately warn about the risks associated with the contraceptives. Bayer has paid more than $1 billion to settle lawsuits in the US, but has not admitted liability, The Province (6/11/13) reports.

Despite the reports from Health Canada, the agency said the benefits of Yasmin and Yaz continue to outweigh the risks and there is no plan to recall the products. Although the drugs were linked to the side effects, there is no way to prove that the drugs actually caused the blood clots, or if there were other factors that may have led to the adverse reactions and deaths.

In December 2011, a panel of FDA experts voted 15 to 11 that Yasmin and Yaz should remain on the market, although the group also voted to update the warnings on the contraceptives’ warning labels to include new information about the risk of blood clots. Among other side effects reportedly linked to Yasmin and Yaz is an increased risk of gallbladder problems.

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