‘Just the tip of the iceberg’: 23 Canadian women dead in 6 years while on Yaz/Yasmin birth control
OTTAWA, Ontario, June 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Third generation birth control pills produced by the massive drug company Bayer have been linked to the deaths of at least 23 Canadian women since 2007, one of them as young as 14.
A Health Canada document reveals that many of the victims who were taking the top-selling birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin died suddenly and unexpectedly from blood clots, a known risk factor for the pill. The pills contain drospirenone, Bayer’s unique formulation of synthetic progestin.
Eighteen-year-old Miranda Scott of Delta, B.C. was taking Yasmin when she suddenly collapsed three years ago while working out on an elliptical machine in a gym. She fell backwards onto a person behind her and managed to say “I can’t breathe” before she died, according to her mother Chip McClaughly. An autopsy revealed that she died from a blood clot in the lung. McClaughly has joined a class-action lawsuit against Bayer on behalf of her daughter.
An Ontarian lawsuit against Bayer has been underway since 2011 after Health Canada issued a consumer advisory that Yaz and Yasmin have a “potential for an increased risk of venous thromboembolism [blood clots].” Later that year Health Canada bumped that advisory to a warning that Yaz and Yasmin users may experience two to three times greater risk of developing blood clots, compared to those who use other brands of contraceptive pills.
Health Canada at that time downplayed the danger of Bayer’s pills.
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“Blood clots are a rare but well known side effect associated with all birth control pills. The risks of blood clots are higher with pregnancy and childbirth than with oral contraceptives,” it said. “Overall the risk of blood clots with any oral contraceptive (including Yasmin and Yaz) is very small.”
A study by France’s health and drug safety agency in March found that the deaths of 20 French women per year were linked to contraceptive pill use, with drospirenone pills being the most common factor in the majority of deaths.
Tony Merchant, a lawyer who represents 1,000 women outside Ontario who say they have been adversely affected by the drug, told CBC that he is in the process of bringing a second class-action lawsuit against Bayer.
Merchant said that the Health Canada statistics on the drug’s harm to women are “just the tip of the iceberg.”
"There are about 30 or 40 deaths that we think are known, but that is usually just the tip of the iceberg because all sorts of people will have died.... [but their families] don't know anything about the litigation, they don't know anything about the problem," he said.
Merchant said that the hundreds of women have approached his firm for help. Each has a similar story of pain, suffering, and hardship caused by the pills. Women have had their gallbladders removed, their hearts have experienced stroke, and they have had to been put on blood thinners for the rest of their lives.
Global sales of Yasmin and Yaz, which total more than $1 billion annually, have dropped sharply — more than 12 percent since last year — due to the scare the drug is causing.
Over 12,000 U.S. women have filed lawsuits against Bayer for blood clot-related injuries while taking Yaz or Yasmin. The FDA has received as many as 50 reports of death linked to the drug. Bayer recently announced that it would set aside as much as $1.2 billion to settle these claims.
Life and family leaders have pointed out that there are safe methods for postponing pregnancy that are just as effective as the pill but are 100 percent natural. These include the Billings ovulation method, the Creighton Model FertilityCare System, and the symptothermal method.
“I’m convinced if more women knew and understood what these other methods are, they would use them instead,” said Andrea Mrozek, founder of ProWomanProLife.org, in a recent interview with LifeSiteNews.com.
Despite the suffering, trauma, and deaths of women who use the drug, Bayer has continued to defend its product: “At Bayer patient safety comes first and we fully stand behind, Yaz and Yasmin,” said Bayer in a written statement to CBC News.