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Yasmin Blood Clots: “That Was the End of a Beautiful, Beautiful Girl”

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Delta, BCIt’s no surprise to Canadian women that Yasmin birth control and close contraceptive cousin Yaz are potentially dangerous. This, after a news crew with the consumer affairs investigative program Marketplace took to the airwaves of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 2011, and asked some pointed questions about the Bayer AG birth control pills. In the show, various young women described harrowing health incidents involving Yaz side effects. One young woman lost her life to a blood clot, allegedly due to her contraceptive.

Still, it came as a shock when Health Canada, the Canadian counterpart to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced that Yasmin blood clots and similar side effects involving Yaz are suspected in the deaths of no fewer than 23 women.

Yasmin and Yaz were once a dynamic duo brought to market by Bayer amidst a slick advertising campaign targeting young women. Bayer was later made, by the FDA, to recant their ad campaign as containing misleading claims, but that wasn’t before young women embraced the newer-generation contraceptives, due in part to an association with the images seen in the ad campaign, but also due to a basket of added-value benefits associated with Yasmin and Yaz, including help with bloating, acne and even symptoms of PMS.

Yaz and Yasmin contain a synthetic progestin known as drospirenone. While oral contraceptives have always carried a small risk for blood clots, various studies have concluded that the risk of Yasmin blood clot is higher with Yasmin and Yaz, than a corresponding risk posed by older, more traditional birth control products.

According to cbc.ca (6/11/13), Health Canada is concerned after releasing some dire numbers. While acknowledging that risk for blood clots remain rare nonetheless, the fact remains that there have been more than 600 adverse reactions attributable to Yasmin and Yaz in Canada in the six years ending February 2013, with 23 deaths suspected to have been caused in some way by the Bayer products. More than half of the reported deaths allegedly linked to Yaz side effects were women under 26.

The youngest to die from Yasmin DVT was reported by Health Canada to have been just 14 years of age.

One of those deaths was that of Miranda Scott, a healthy and active 18-year-old student who was in the throes of working out on an elliptical machine in a gym at the University of British Columbia, when she suddenly collapsed and died in 2010.

“She fell backwards into the person behind her and then, I guess, when she was on the ground she said, ‘I can’t breathe,’ and then, you know, she was gone,” Chip McClaughry, Scott’s mother, said at her home in Delta, British Columbia, while interviewed by the CBC.

“As soon as I heard that she had been on Yasmin, I thought, ‘I’m just going to look that up,’ and I did, and I thought: ‘Oh my God, this is what’s killed her,’” she said. The young girl’s autopsy referenced her cause of death as “disseminated intravascular coagulation,” another name for Yasmin blood clots. She had been taking Yasmin less than a month when she collapsed.

Health Canada reported that most of the alleged Yasmin and Yaz deaths occurred soon after patients started taking the pills. Attorneys leading the charge behind a Yasmin class-action lawsuit note that deaths could realistically number between 30 and 40 - but could be a lot higher given that many consumers and even doctors and pharmacists may be unaware of the Yaz side effects.

Bayer, in a written statement to CBC, continues to defend its products. “We are very disappointed in [the decision] to certify a class in Ontario in an ongoing lawsuit regarding Yaz and Yasmin. No decision has been made on the merits of the case. We have filed a request with the Court for leave to appeal the decision and are evaluating our legal options... At Bayer patient safety comes first and we fully stand behind, Yaz and Yasmin.”

Scott’s mother told the CBC in an emotional interview that it was just five weeks, from the time her daughter Miranda started taking Yasmin birth control, to the day she collapsed and died. “And that was the end of a beautiful, beautiful girl.”

Bayer appears in court in Ontario, Canada, September 4.

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