Bayer to settle multi-million dollar Yaz pharmaceutical lawsuits

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Bayer AG, Germany’s largest drug manufacturer, will reportedly pay at least $110 million to settle the first 500 Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits. According to Bloomberg, Bayer officials have agreed to pay an average of $220,000 per case to resolve claims alleging that Yaz and Yasmin birth control pills caused blood clots that resulted in heart attacks and strokes. The settlement came after the first Yaz suit scheduled for trial was postponed so mediators could work out a settlement. More than 11,000 pharmaceutical lawsuits have been filed alleging that Yaz is a dangerous drug, causing injuries and death.

“Sounds to me like mediation is paying off. As a German company, Bayer probably would like to avoid the risks and costs of litigation in U.S. Courts. Mediation tends to be a less-expensive way to deal with these kinds of cases” said Carl Tobias, law professor at University of Richmond in Virginia. Although the settlement has not yet been made public, a U.S. spokesman for the company confirmed that “some cases pending in the current Yaz/Yasmin litigation in the U.S. are being settled.”

The settlements come just days after a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) directive ordered Bayer and other contraceptive manufacturers to strengthen warnings on their products regarding blood clots. The new warning labels for birth control pills containing drospirenone–such as Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella–will warn consumers that these contraceptives may have a three-fold increase in the risk of blood clots.

Bayer has faced “a wave of litigation” over its birth control pills since 2009. Attorneys representing injured plaintiffs cited FDA reports of at least 50 deaths associated with these contraceptives between 2004 and 2008.

Source: Bloomberg, “Bayer said to pay $110 million in Yaz birth control cases,” Jef Feeley and Margaret Cronin Fisk, April 13, 2012