Please note: the study cited by BAYER was paid for by the company and was conducted by former employees who founded the alleged ZEG Institute that mainly works for BAYER. All independent studies found an increased risk of stroke and embolism.
Photos: Yasmin victims protesting at Bayer ASM 2015.
Australia: stroke victim joins class action against drug company BAYER
June 28, 2015 -- Amy Walker was getting her three daughters ready for school when she had the peculiar sensation of feeling something foreign on her head. After a moment she realised it was actually her own arm.
At just 33, the Princess Hill woman was suffering a stroke. "I couldn't figure out how to get my arm off my head," she said.
When her daughter, Ada, came running for a pair of socks, all she could do was grunt.
Ms Walker had been taking the contraceptive pill Yasmin for a skin condition. She is now one of about 1100 Australia women, including 200 from Victoria, who have registered to join a planned class action against Bayer, the pill's manufacturer.
Andrew Montesi, from law firm Tindall Gask Bentley, said the firm was compiling medical complaints from the use of pills Yasmin and Yaz, which both contain the hormone drospirenone.
The law firm says Bayer may have misrepresented the risks of harm arising from using the pills, and that some women may be entitled to compensation after suffering health problems including stroke, heart attack, gallbladder issues, blood clots, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
A similar class action is under way in Canada, and it has been reported that Bayer has settled cases with thousands of women without admitting liability in the United States. The US claims, worth more than US$1 billion in total, are for venous thromboembolism, which includes deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
In 2011, the British Medical Journal published two studies that found women who use newer combined contraceptive pills such as Yasmin were twice as likely to develop life-threatening blood clots as those taking pills using an older hormone called levonorgestrel. However, a May report in the same journal found the overall risk of venous thromboembolism was still low, with just 14 cases in every 10,000 women.
A spokeswoman for Bayer said all pills increased the risks of blood clots, and pointed to another study, in the journal Contraception, which showed similar rates across different pills. She said any class action against it would be vigorously defended.
Family Planning Victoria medical director Kathleen McNamee said there was evidence to suggest that pills containing drospirenone posed more risk for venous thromboembolism and recommended women use other types.
However, she said the risk of stroke was the same for those taking other types of pills.
A Therapeutic Goods Association spokeswoman said there was a review under way to update contraceptive product information with more explicit warnings about the potential health risks, including specific reference to inherited clotting disorders.
She said it was up to the prescribing doctor to weigh the risks with their patients.
Ms Walker said she was given no warnings when prescribed the pill and had no family history of stroke.
Ada, who was nine at the time, said finding her mum in the midst of having a stroke was "scary". "I sort of freaked out and didn't know what to do," she said.
The otherwise fit single mother spent the week in hospital and the next few months unable to drive, cook or adequately care for her daughters.
"I cried a lot," Ms Walker said. "I was terrified I would always be this way. The pill needs to come with a much higher warning."
8 January 2014
Australia: 600 women flag interest in contraceptive pill class action against Bayer
An Adelaide law firm says more than 600 Australian women have expressed interest in joining a potential class action against Bayer, the maker of the contraceptive pills Yasmin and Yaz.
The women claim to have suffered serious side effects from the pills, mostly to do with complications from blood clots.
A United States study of more than 800,000 women who took the pills found the risk of developing blood clots is up to three times higher than for other contraceptives.
Kelly Lee says she was 28 and fit when she had a stroke, not long after taking Yasmin. She says she wants action taken against Bayer and the pill should be taken off the market. "I really want them to fight for it for the other women," she said. "I want that pill to be off the market so the thing that happened to me doesn't happen to anybody else.”
"So I just want the lawsuit to go ahead so, you know, they stop making this pill."
Lawyer Tim White from Tindall Gask Bentley says he is confident action will go ahead against Bayer, who he claims has not adequately disclosed the health risks of taking the product.
"The number of women that have come forward throughout Australia with very serious complications is alarming," he said. "The majority of the women that we've had dealings with have been very significantly affected as a result of taking either of these two drugs. And by that what I mean is that these women are being hospitalised."
Tindall Gask Bentley says settlements have been successful in other countries.