After researchers revealed in 2011 that Bayer AG’s Yasmin line of birth-control pills tripled the risk of blood clots in women, the German pharmaceutical giant has faced over 11,900 product liability lawsuits from over 14,000 plaintiffs in the United States alone. They have settled 651 of those U.S. cases to date for a total of about $142 million, or $218,000 a case. This strategy of settling multiple lawsuits at once is common in product liability cases that have affected thousands of people, which means that women who took Yaz or Yasmin have great reason to believe that they can achieve a personal injury settlement with the company.
Bayer is trying to settle as many of these defective product cases as possible in order to avoid lawsuits that go to court and lead to large jury awards because product liability settlements provide a measure of predictability to the legal process. Yasmin was the No. 4 oral contraceptive in the U.S. in 2011 – claiming 4.6% of market share as of September 2011 – which means they may have to pay a lot more personal injury settlements before all is said and done.
Unbeknownst to consumers, the synthetic hormone known as drospirenone in Yasmin tripled the risk of blood clots, putting them at risk of heart attacks and strokes. Personal injury lawyers representing plaintiffs in these product liability cases claimed that Federal Drug Administration reports showed at least 50 wrongful deaths tied to the drug from 2004 to 2008. These lawyers contend that Bay misled women into thinking that their contraceptive was safe when in fact it was putting their very lives at risk.