Wednesday December 23, 2009

Another Woman Dies of Hormonal Contraceptive in Switzerland

By Patrick B. Craine

BASEL, Switzerland, December 23, 2009 ( – The Swiss Federation of Service to Patients (Patientenstellen der Schweiz) has called for a ban on a particular type of contraceptive pill after it was linked to the death last month of a 17-year-old German girl who died in a Swiss hospital.

The girl, who died at the University Hospital of Basel, was taking a pill that includes drospirenone, a synthetic progestin, which is a compound included in newer brands, such as Yaz, Yasmin, and Yasminelle.

This has been the third grave incident reported in Switzerland this year involving such contraceptives. In each case, the women suffered pulmonary embolisms. In May, one ended up severely disabled after a three-month coma, and in September another woman died.

“As no study has proven that the side-effects caused by these contraceptives are not worse than in the case of other pills, they should be banned,” stated Erika Ziltener, President of the Federation, reports 24 Heures.

Swissmedic, the country’s medical regulatory body, insists that the product need not be taken off the shelves, however, indicating that all contraceptive pills carry risks. “We conducted tests on this subject this fall,” they said, according to 24 Heures. “It was clear that drospirenone does not increase health risks. There is no reason to remove these products from the market.”

Over 100 lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. against Bayer Pharmaceuticals, who manufactures the pills, alleging that the company has overstated the benefits of the drugs, downplayed the side-effects, and failed to conduct proper research before releasing them onto the market.

See related coverage:

Swiss Woman’s Death Linked to Hormonal Contraceptive

FDA Orders Berlex To Stop Running ‘Misleading’ Commercial for Yasmin Birth Control Pills