According to an online news article posted to Bloomberg’s website this week, it seems that pharmaceutical giant, Bayer AG, could have misled women regarding the potential health risks associated with use of their newer generation of birth control pills. Moreover, based on information collected from the review of internal company e-mails, Bayer may have even sought to market the Yasmin family of oral contraceptives for uses not previously approved by the FDA.
Internal documents provided to lawyers representing women suing Bayer revealed that unit officials within the company discussed promoting the birth control pill, Yaz (a spinoff of Yasmin), as a treatment for all types of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). However, to date, federal regulators have only approved Yaz as a treatment for the most severe form of PMS.
Within the documents, an e-mail message was uncovered which cited an article in Woman’s Day magazine about Yaz. The message, which read, “This article is a nice way of using YAZ for PMS treatment instead of just focusing on the specific class of women battling premenstrual dysphoric disorder, the most severe form of PMS,” was included in a mountain of internal files produced as evidence in ongoing litigation against Bayer.
At the moment, Bayer faces more than 10,000 lawsuits over injuries associated with use of their birth control pills, which allegedly caused women to suffer from blood clots, heart attacks and strokes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has even reported that approximately 50 deaths can be tied to Bayer’s pills between the years 2004 and 2008.
The overall safety regarding the Yasmin family of birth control pills continues to be the subject of heated, worldwide debate. Additionally, after reviewing the results collected from extensive research on the pills, the FDA released a statement last month warning that women taking these newer generation oral contraceptives are 74 percent more likely to suffer blood clots then women taking older generation pills.
In January, Bayer is set to face the first of what could be several trials of lawsuits in which Yasmin and Yaz are alleged to have caused serious injury. Many people hold the opinion that the Bayer and its business units have routinely sacrificed the safety and health of women who use their birth control pills, simply to increase the company’s bottom line profits. More than 12 million women in the U.S. and more than 100 million women worldwide use oral contraceptives, and as such, determining the overall safety and efficacy of these products is of the utmost importance.