How Safe is Your Birth Control?

December 12th, 2011

altIn 2002, the birth control patch, Ortho Evra, hit the market and flew off the shelves as millions of women went to their doctors for this new, exciting birth control product.  But what they didn’t know was that Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Ortho Evra, was concealing evidence that its popular patch delivered 60 percent more estrogen than standard birth control pills, significantly increasing the risk of blood clots and strokes.

Result?  Thousands of lawsuits were filed, Johnson & Johnson paid out roughly $68 million in settlement funds (pennies compared to the $1.6 billion it had already made selling the patch), and Ortho Evra remains on the market.

Flash forward to 2011 when a signed statement by the former commissioner of the FDA is unsealed revealing that another birth control manufacturer – this time Bayer – withheld evidence that women who take their popular pill, Yasmin, are more likely to suffer blood clots than women who take other birth control pills.  That’s because Yasmin contains the hormone drospirenone, which, according to studies, creates a two to three times greater risk of blood clots.  And that’s not all they did.  Bayer also marketed Yasmin for unapproved uses, such as acne and PMS, making us unsuspecting consumers think there are added benefits of taking Bayer’s pill.

Result? Bayer is facing more than 10,000 lawsuits over injuries, including a reported 50 deaths, allegedly caused by the pill.  How much they pay out remains to be seen, but we’re pretty sure it won’t reach the $1.58 billion Bayer made in sales in 2010.  And yes, Yasmin is still on the market too.

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