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Bayer Sued, Accused of Hiding Yaz Risk to Boost Sales

Bayer AG, Germany’s largest drugmaker, was sued by two Pennsylvania pension funds and accused of misrepresenting the safety and effectiveness of the Yaz contraceptive to boost sales.

Bayer unlawfully promoted the drug from March 2006 to March 2009 by concealing side effects including blood clots, heart attacks and pulmonary embolisms, two health and welfare funds for firefighters and city employees said in a federal court complaint made public today in Philadelphia.

The Yasmin family of birth control pills, known as Yaz, Yasmin and Yasminelle, were Bayer’s top-selling drugs last year, bringing in about $1.8 billion, a 17 percent increase over 2007.

About 300 cases have been filed against the company over Yaz. Roughly 200 have been filed in federal litigation consolidated in East St. Louis, Illinois. Another 50 have been consolidated in state court in Philadelphia.

Women who took the drug to prevent pregnancy or treat premenstrual disorder or acne may have suffered side effects including strokes, heart attacks, gallbladder disease and sudden death, according to the complaints.

Bayer announced Sept. 25 that Yaz is part of a Swiss health regulator’s investigation into the death of a woman who took the pill. The Swissmedic agency and an investigative judge are looking into the case of the woman, who died from a pulmonary embolism, or blockage of an artery in the lung.

The funds’ complaint was filed by the Philadelphia Firefighters Union Local No. 22 Health and Welfare Fund and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, District Council 47 Health and Welfare Fund.

Yasmin, which inhibits ovulation, is made with the active ingredient drospirenone. Several studies indicate that the compound causes an increase in potassium levels in the blood, which can lead to a condition known as hyperkalemia, according to the complaint.

Yaz and Yasmin are the only contraceptives to contain drospirenone, the complaint said.

Bayer concealed and minimized the risks associated Yaz when promoting the drug, the plaintiffs said. Television commercials “misleadingly and deceptively” promoted the drug for uses not approved by regulators, the complaint said.

In February, Bayer Corp., a unit of Leverkusen, Germany- based Bayer, announced it would spend $20 million for “corrective advertising” as part of a 27-state settlement of claims it misled consumers about Yaz.

The accord resolved complaints that Bayer promoted the drug as an acne treatment and other conditions for which its use hadn’t been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The case is Philadelphia Firefighters Union Local No. 22 Health and Welfare Fund v. Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Inc., 2:09-cv-04567, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

If you or a family member has been personally injured because of the fault of someone else: by the use of dangerous and defective drugs, bad products, or toxic injury etc then please contact the Dallas Texas Defective Drugs Product Liability Attorney Dr. Shezad Malik. For a no obligation, free case analysis, please call 817-255-4001 or Contact Me Online.

The Dr. Shezad Malik Law Firm is currently evaluating and accepting YAZ, Yasmin and Ocella Side Effect cases.

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