Drospirenone, or DRSP, is a synthetic form of the natural hormone progesterone. Ethinyl estradiol, or E2, is a type of another natural hormone, estrogen. Together these hormones prevent pregnancy by both suppressing ovulation and preventing fertilization. Birth control pills containing DRSP and E2 are sometimes referred to as “fourth generation” birth control pills. In recent years, this hormone combination has been linked to a number of serious health complications, including blood clots.
Q: What birth control pills contain drospirenone / ethinyl estradiol?
Probably the most well-known birth control pills containing DRSP and E2 are Yaz and Yasmin, which are brand-name drugs manufactured by Bayer HealthCare. Yaz and Yasmin are almost identical—both contain 3 mg of DRSP. While Yasmin is used exclusively for birth control, Yaz can also be used to treat moderate acne as well as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), a condition that includes severe forms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. Bayer makes two other related products, Beyaz and Safyral, which are versions of Yaz and Yasmin with vitamin B added.
Q: Are there other names for drospirenone / ethinyl estradiol birth control pills?
Yes—there are generic versions of Yaz sold under the names Gianvi and Loryna. Generic versions of Yasmin are also available, namely Ocella, Sayeda, and Zarah. Generic drugs are virtually identical to their name-brand counterparts, so any problems associated with Yaz and Yasmin will also likely be found in their generic versions.
Q: What serious health complications are linked to drospirenone birth control pills?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a report in 2011 stating that drugs containing drospirenone were associated with an increased risk of blood clots as compared to other birth control pills. Blood clots can lead to potentially life-threatening conditions, including deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Yaz and other drospirenone-containing birth control pills have also been linked to instances of heart attack, stroke, and even death in some women.
Q: What has the FDA done about birth control pills with drospirenone?
In 2008, the FDA requested that Bayer correct advertisements that reportedly misled viewers about the approved uses for Yaz. In particular, the FDA found that earlier ads for Yaz were inaccurate since they gave the impression that Yaz treats symptoms of PMS even though Yaz was approved only to treat PMDD. The FDA has also required Bayer to put a “black box” notice on the labeling for Yaz warning of an increased risk blood clots, stroke, and gallbladder disease. The boxed label also warns that women 35 years and older who smoke are at a particularly high risk of developing blood clots.
Q: I’ve been injured by a birth control pill. Can I file a lawsuit against the manufacturer?
The makers of drospirenone birth control pills may be liable for injuries or deaths that result from drugs containing DRSP. In birth control lawsuits, women have claimed that Bayer and other drug makers failed to warn doctors and patients about the high risk of serious side effects as compared to other forms of birth control. Plaintiffs have also claimed that Yaz and similar drugs have a defective design, meaning the manufacturers could have used a safer combination of hormones but failed to do so.
Q: My loved one died after taking drospirenone birth control pills. Can I sue the manufacturer?
Family members of women who have died from taking drospirenone birth control pills can also file a birth control lawsuit against the manufacturer. This is known as a wrongful death lawsuit and allows close relatives, like spouses and parents, to seek compensation for their loss. A successful wrongful death suit allows family members to receive compensation for medical bills, funeral costs, the loss of companionship, and the loss of the deceased’s financial support.
Q: Are there currently any lawsuits against the manufacturers of DRSP drugs?
As of mid-2013, nearly 10,000 birth control lawsuits have been filed in federal courts by injured women or their families. These cases have been consolidated for certain preliminary matters in Illinois pending trial. So far, Bayer has settled about 500 of these cases, paying each patient an average of $200,000. Lawsuits have also been filed in state courts across the country. Some states, like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, have so many related cases that courts have consolidated the claims into essentially a single birth control lawsuit for each state.