We mentioned the drugs Yaz and Yazmin at the outset of this section. In several previous issues, we also reported on the problems with the oral contraceptives and on the increasing number of lawsuits filed against Bayer HealthCare. These drugs continue to make headlines as the New Jersey judiciary is considering a request for mass tort status due to the growing number of suits alleging strokes and other serious health problems from Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella.
With 13 suits filed in his vicinage, Assignment Judge Donald Volkert Jr. wrote to the Acting Administrative Director of the Courts on October 22nd that “the case management and potential trial of this particular litigation would place a fairly substantial strain on our already limited resources.” There are 26 suits against the contraceptives’ manufacturers pending in other counties, and Judge Volkert said Plaintiffs lawyers have told him the number could reach 1,000.
In a notice to the bar, the Administrative Office of the Courts says it will accept public comments until December 31st on the proposal to centralize the cases in Atlantic, Bergen or Middlesex counties, where mass torts are heard. Named Defendants in the suits are Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, a German company with U.S. headquarters in Wayne, which makes Yaz, and Barr Pharmaceuticals of Montvale, owned Teva Pharmaceuticals of Israel, which makes Ocella, a generic version.
Cited in Judge Volkert’s mass tort application is a suit filed in Passaic, New Jersey, by ten women from Texas and Tennessee who allege they suffered from deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and other problems due to the prescription drugs. The suit asserts that “Defendants should have known that Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella created a higher risk of pulmonary embolism than other oral contraceptives on the market.” The suits allege that the drugs contain estrogen and progestin, which suppress ovulation and prevent pregnancy. The drugs also contain drospirenone, an ingredient not in other oral contraceptives. Drospirenone is allegedly unlike other progestins in the United States and was not marketed in this country before its use in the three drugs.
In August, the British Medical Journal published two studies showing a higher risk of venous blood clots for women taking drospirenone than those who took other oral contraceptives. And on August 5th, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to Bayer for using low-quality batches of drospirenone from a plant in Germany.
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