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Drug-induced injuries remain a threat for patients

Drug-induced injuries remain a real threat for patients in Oregon and nationwide. Injuries can result when a person reacts poorly to a certain drug, or when a combination of drugs proves dangerous. Sometimes, a drug might be prescribed before it is safe to do so or before all of its potential side-effects have been tested. A recent example involves a line of birth-control pills sold by pharmaceutical giant Bayer.

Bayer executives reported more than 12,000 lawsuits over the Yasmin line of contraceptives in a recent company newsletter. The claims involve allegations of blood clots or damage to gallbladders caused by the drugs. Plaintiffs’ attorneys further claim that Bayer marketed the contraceptives for unapproved uses and was misleading about the associated risks.

Bayer has agreed to settle around 1,877 cases involving allegations of vein clotting in women. However, the company has rejected claims alleging gallbladder damage or gallstones.

According to a recent count, settlements of U.S. lawsuits involving Yasmin and Yaz birth-control pills have increased to more than $402 million. Insurance might cover some of the legal fees, and Bayer has also set aside $610.5 million this quarter to pay the costs.

According to date from IMS Health, Yasmin was the fourth most popular oral contraceptive sold in the United States in 2011. It occupied 4.6 percent of the market and generated $1.1 billion in sales in 2011. In fact, it ranked as the third top-selling drug for Bayer in 2011.

The lawsuits come at a time when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been examining the safety of oral contraceptives. After examining data on more than 835,000 women who took contraceptive pills containing drospirenone, the FDA ordered contraceptive makers to strengthen blood-clot warnings on their products.

Source: Businessweek, “Bayer’s Yasmin Lawsuit Settlements Rise to $402.6 million,” Jef Feeley and Naomi Kresge, July 31, 2012

• Our firm handles situations similar to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Oregon Prescription Drug-Induced Injuries page.