Recent research has linked the use of Yasmin, a popular oral contraceptive drug manufactured by Bayer Healthcare Inc., to an increased risk of stroke. Yasmin was originally approved by the FDA in 2001 for pregnancy prevention and has since been used for off-label purposes including moderate acne control and treatment of some of the symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Unfortunately, these benefits are greatly outweighed by the potential risks of Yasmin use, which include heart attack, gallbladder disease, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and stroke. Consumers assume that if a drug is approved by the FDA and made available to the public, it must not only be effective, but safe as well. Most people understand that no drug is one hundred percent side effect-free, but many of these side effects are minor and unlikely to cause us significant harm. In some cases however, even a drug that has garnered FDA approval may have the potential to result in unreasonable and dangerous side effects. Unfortunately, without adequate information from drug manufacturing companies, consumers may take these medications, unaware of the risks they are exposing themselves to.
A stroke is similar to a heart attack in nature, except that it affects the brain instead of the heart. Arteries carry oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood from the heart to the body’s other vital organs, including the brain. When this blood supply is blocked, typically due to a blood clot that has traveled through the bloodstream, brain cells don’t receive enough oxygen and the cells become damaged. If blood flow is blocked for a long period of time, the brain cells will begin to die.
The most common symptoms of a stroke include dizziness, loss of coordination, loss of consciousness, weakness of facial muscles, weakness in the arm, leg, or both on the same side, difficulty speaking, sudden headache and vision problems. Some stroke victims suffer from seizures, cerebral swelling, increased intracranial pressure and intracranial hemorrhage. Because the brain is responsible for most of our body’s actions and reactions, damage to brain cells can result in serious complications, including permanent paralysis, loss of mental and physical function, and speech problems.
The most dangerous aspect of Yasmin is the drug’s use of the synthetic progestin hormone, drospirenone. Yasmin is one of a small group of drugs called “fourth generation” combination birth control pills because they contain both estrogen and drospirenone. According to the FDA, drospirenone can cause serious heart and health problems, including heart attack, blood clots and stroke. In fact, a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2009 indicated that drugs containing drospirenone are more than six times as likely to cause blood clots than drugs not containing drospirenone. Since blood clots that travel through the blood stream to the brain are the most common cause of stroke, medications like Yasmin significantly increase an individual’s risk of suffering from a stroke.
Unfortunately, information regarding the harmful nature of medications like Yasmin are sometimes not made available to the public. Some drug manufacturing companies intentionally conceal the more serious side effects associated with their medications in order to ensure FDA approval. This not only defeats the purpose of clinical trials, but also leaves consumers unknowingly at risk for significant and even life-threatening harm just by taking their prescription medication.
There are a number of other deceptive practices employed by pharmaceutical companies to put their drug in a more positive light. In 2008, the FDA composed a warning letter to Bayer regarding the company’s use of misleading advertisement techniques in Yasmin television commercials. According to the FDA, the advertisements implied that Yasmin was superior to other combination birth control pills while simultaneously glossing over the drug’s adverse side effects. In 2009, the FDA sent another warning letter to Bayer criticizing the company’s use of flawed testing methods in a German manufacturing facility. This facility was averaging reports instead of reporting results for individual Yasmin batches, allowing some batches to fall outside the legal parameters. At least eight of these inadequately tested batches were shipped to the United States.
Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Victims of stroke related to the use of Yasmin are not at fault and should contact a Yasmin attorney to discuss the benefits of filing a lawsuit against the Yasmin manufacturing company, Bayer. A number of Yasmin lawsuits are already pending against Bayer for injuries linked to Yasmin and hundreds of additional Yasmin injury cases are currently being investigated. If you or a loved one has suffered from a stroke and you believe Yasmin to be the cause, contact a Yasmin lawyer to represent your case. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and an experienced Yasmin attorney can provide you with exceptional legal guidance.