Published May 7, 2012 on LawsuitInformation.org
A judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation (MDL) regarding the oral contraceptive Yaz has cleared the way for more settlement negotiations to continue.
Chief Judge David R. Herndon, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, moved back the deadlines for Yaz lawsuits, allowing for the drug’s maker, Bayer, and attorneys to negotiate settlements for the more than 11,000 remaining lawsuits regarding the blood clot risks associated with the drug.
This is the third time the judge has granted a deadline extension for the court cases to begin.
Already, Bayer has agreed to pay out $142 million to settle 651 cases but will not admit any fault in the drug’s connection to deadly blood clots. The settlements come out to about $218,000 per case.
The Germany-based Bayer originally faced 11,900 lawsuits in the United States alone with about 14,000 plaintiffs. Experts say the company will have to pay up to $2.65 billion to settle the remaining cases.
The problem with Yaz started from the get-go. While the birth control pill contained a generic form of estrogen like other pills on the market, it also contained a new synthetic form of progesterone called drospirenone. Studies now show that drospirenone is linked to elevated stroke and blood clot risks.
Early on, though, Yaz was sensationalized through a multi-million dollar advertising campaign that promoted the drug as hip and cool. It was promoted as a way to not only prevent unwanted pregnancies but also prevent acne, premenstrual moodiness and bloating.
With its flashy ads and catch phrases, Yaz quickly became the top selling birth control pill in the U.S. In 2010 alone, it generated $1.58 billion in sales.
By 2011, the curtain was closing on Yaz as more and more research pointed to the drug’s deadly side effects. Girls as young as age 13 were dying from Yaz-related blood clots while the drug company continually denied any wrongdoing.
It took the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) years to finally step in and acknowledge a problem with Yaz. It wasn’t until early April that federal drug regulators ordered Bayer to include tougher blood-clot warnings on the drug’s label.
The warning states that drospirenone triples the risk for deadly blood clots. Just weeks after the FDA stepped in, the first round of Yaz court settlements were announced.
The first nine test trials for Yaz MDL were at first scheduled to being in September 2011 and then January 2012. By mid January, Herndon delayed the test trials indefinitely and ordered mediation at Bayer’s request. The trials were scheduled to begin on April 30 if the mediation failed.