Bayer Corp. may need to prepare for years of defending its birth control pill, Yaz, in court. The company currently faces at least 129 Yaz-related lawsuits, all of which allege the drug caused plaintiffs to suffer heart attacks, strokes, cardiac arrhythmias, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, gallbladder disease and, in some cases, sudden death. Product liability plaintiffs attorneys predict thousands more will be filed in the coming months and years.
In one suit, Susan Galinis alleges Yaz caused her to suffer a stroke in 2008. The stroke required surgeons to remove part of her skull and brain, leaving her with limited short term memory and an IQ bordering mental retardation. She filed suit in October, claiming Bayer failed to adequately research the drug and adequately warn about its risks.
Unlike most other birth control pills available in the U.S., Yaz uses drospirenone, a synthetic hormone that alters the body's normal balance of salt and water. As a result, someone taking it may experience elevated potassium levels, which could lead to life-threatening health issues.
The Yaz suits aren't Bayer's only legal worries. In October, the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest filed suit against the drug company, claiming it deceived consumers by stating its One A Day multivitamins for men reduced the risk of prostate cancer.