Birth Control Related Injuries: Who Is to Blame?

Birth control pills containing drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol have been linked to serious health risks, like blood clots, stroke, and even death. Thousands of women have suffered serious side effects as a result of taking Yaz, Yasmin, Beyaz, Ocella, and Gianvi. Legal action under products liability law, wrongful death, false advertising, and medical malpractice may be available to women who’ve suffered injuries or to the immediate family members of women who have died as a result of taking the pill.

Health Risks Linked to Drospirenone Birth Control Pills

Although all types of birth control pills carry a risk of blood clots, the FDA has found that pills containing a combination of drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol are three times more likely to cause blood clots than other types of birth control pills. Severe blood clots like pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis, which are blood clots in the lungs and legs respectively, are also known side effects. In addition to blood clots, drospirenone pills have been linked to stroke, heart attack, gall bladder disease, and in some cases, death.

Products Liability Law

Under product liability law, manufacturers have a duty to ensure that their products are safe to use and free of any defects. As a result, products must meet the ordinary expectations of users. For example, a birth control pill that causes severe blood clots in healthy young women probably wouldn’t meet this standard, since users wouldn’t expect the pills to cause blood clots in otherwise healthy women.

Manufacturers also have a duty to ensure their products are free of any design defects, defects in manufacturing, and defects in warning. For example, if the manufacturer knew that using drospirenone in birth control pills would cause heart attacks, but failed to warn consumers about the risk, the manufacturer could be liable for defective warnings. In that case, injured users could be awarded damages for their hospital bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

In addition to the manufacturer, all parties who had a hand in the distribution of the defective product could also be held liable. For defective birth control pills, parties in the chain of distribution could include doctors and drug sellers. For instance, the doctor who prescribed the pill could be liable if she failed to warn her patients about known health risks. Sellers, including pharmacies that sold the drug, could also be liable in certain circumstances.

Wrongful Death

Immediate family members whose loved ones have died as a result of taking drospirenone birth control pills may be able to sue the manufacturer under wrongful death laws. Wrongful death actions can be brought if a person’s death is caused by the fault of another person or entity. For example, if your wife died from a pulmonary embolism after taking Yaz, a wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate.

State laws govern wrongful death actions. Some states only allow immediate family members and spouses to sue for wrongful death, while others allow life partners, distant family members, and non-relatives who relied financially on the deceased. If a wrongful death lawsuit is successful, compensation may be awarded for funeral costs, medical expenses, loss of future companionship, loss of the deceased’s financial support, and the monetary value of services the deceased provided.

False Advertising

Manufacturers are liable for false advertising if they make misleading statements that have an impact on consumers’ decision to purchase a product. The FDA has warned Bayer about their misleading television ads for Yaz. The ads claimed that Yaz can be used to treat PMS and all acne conditions. However, Bayer never evaluated the pill’s effectiveness in treating PMS. In addition, it’s been found that Yaz is only effective in treating moderate cases of acne. On top of the injury claims, Bayer is also being sued for using misleading claims while marketing Yaz. If the courts find that the advertisements were used to intentionally mislead consumers, the company may be liable for false advertising.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or medical professional fails to competently perform his or her medical duties, resulting in an injury to the patient. Under medical malpractice law, a doctor may be liable for failure to diagnose an illness, failure to warn patients about known risks, or improper care. For example, if a doctor knows that a patient has a history of blood clots and that a birth control pill increases the risk of blood clots, but still prescribes the pill, the doctor could be liable for medical malpractice if the patient suffers injuries.