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Mother Joins Yaz Litigation after Daughter’s Death

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Another parent is suing Bayer over its contraceptive drug Yaz saying the drug

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caused her daughter to suffer a blood clot and die. In May, Joan Cummins filed a lawsuit against the company after her 18-year-old daughter, Michelle Pfelger, who was taking Yaz went into cardiac arrest and died in 2010, reported NJ.com. Cummins said her daughter became familiar with Yaz after seeing commercials marketing the drug for mild acne treatment, premenstrual relief and prevention of pregnancy. She and numerous plaintiffs are claiming Bayer failed to warn consumers of the increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks, strokes and death associated with the popular drug. Yaz and Yasmin are contraceptive pills containing drospirenone, which is a type of female sex hormone called progestin. In 2001, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Yasmin for contraceptive use, and in 2006 the agency allowed Berlex, then manufacturer of the drugs, to market Yaz for the same purpose. Bayer sponsored the drugs with an aggressive marketing campaign, one that plaintiffs are calling misleading. In 2010, the annual sales of Yaz reached $361 million due to its innovative function of being used for shorter days thus creating less hormonal fluctuation, says NJ.com. However, evidence emerged the drugs were linked to health complications. In April, two studies published in the British Medical Journal reported a “two to three times greater than risk of venous thromboembolism associated with using” contraceptive pills containing drospirenone. The FDA issued a warning in June saying recent findings demonstrate safety concerns associated with Yaz, Yasmin and other similar drospirenone-containing pills. The agency reported that all birth control pills pose a risk of blood clots; however, two published studies found a greater risk of blood clots in women taking birth control containing drospirenone than those taking birth control containing progestin. More than 900 lawsuits over Yaz and Yasmin have been filed in Bergen County, one of the four courts handling the mass tort litigation. Other suits were filed in Philadelphia, California and Illinois, reported NJ.com. The pending lawsuits in federal court were consolidated in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois before Judge David R. Herndon. In an order dated November 10, 2009, Judge Herndon appointed members to the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee, which includes, a partner at the law firm Parker Waichman LLP.

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