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Bayer in hot water over contraceptives

Pharmaceutical giant Bayer is facing allegations that are bringing two of its well-known contraceptives into the headlines. A product liability suit has been filed against the company for supposed off-label marketing and an alleged disregard for the health of women taking Yaz and Yasmin birth control pills. More than 10,000 suits have been filed against the company by users of the contraceptives in question. For users in Chicago that have experienced negative side effects, this may be the time to speak up.

According to a study performed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, women taking the contraceptives -- which have the hormone drospirenone in them -- are 74 percent more likely to experience a blood clot than women who take low-estrogen contraceptives. This, along with an alleged increase in the risk for strokes and heart attacks, has allowed many individuals to begin litigation against the company for their potentially dangerous product. Reports from the FDA show that at least 50 individuals between 2004 and 2008 died from complications tied to the pills.

In regards to the off-label marketing, officials with the company discussed advertising the pill as effective against all types of premenstrual syndrome. The pill was only approved for treatment of the most severe form of PMS, known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which would make any generalized advertising illegal. Files showing this discussion between Bayer officials were supplied at the request of lawyers suing the company for the many women that have been allegedly affected.

Contraceptives made Bayer approximately $1.58 billion in sales during the last fiscal year. Only one drug makes the company more money. That drug is a medication for individuals with multiple sclerosis known as Betaseron.

Source: Bloomberg, "Bayer May Have Pitched Birth-Control Pill for Unapproved Use," Jef Feeley and Margaret Cronin Fisk, Nov. 21, 2011

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