Press Release, September 3, 2009
Coalition against Bayer Dangers
“Remove dangerous contraceptive pills from the market!
Potentially fatal blood clots / Two-fold increase in side effects / more than 50 deaths in the US
The Coalition against Bayer Dangers demands a ban of "third generation" contraceptive pills with increased rates of side effects. Studies recently published in the British Medical Journal found that pills which contain the hormones drospirenone or desogestrel carry twice the risk of potentially fatal injuries than the second generation medication first used in the 1970s. The studies showed that contraceptive pills such as Yaz and Yasmin, manufactured by Bayer, caused a six-fold increase in the risk of blood clots, which cause injuries such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE).
Bayer is the world market leader in hormonal contraceptives, sales of Yaz and Yasmin were more than 1 billion last year. Jan Pehrke from the Coalition against Bayer Dangers says: “The side effects of Yaz and Yasmin are more dangerous than those of older oral contraceptives. Bayer concealed the risk of injury, failed to warn doctors or their patients and downplayed the risks of Yasmin and Yaz in comparison to other available birth control pills. Both drugs contain 3 mg drospirenone, a hormone which promotes dehydration and leads to a slight weight loss. However, the loss of fluid also increases the risk of blood clots.
German authorities reported seven deaths related to Yasmin. German and Swiss authorities recently started investigations into the risks of Yasmin. In the United States at least 48 lawsuits have been filed against Bayer. The suits state that from 2004 through 2008 Yaz/Yasmin has caused more than 50 deaths, which occurred in some women as young as 17. Deaths associated with cardiac arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, intracardiac thrombus, pulmonary embolism, and stroke were reported.
Bayer is refusing to release any figures on side effects linked to contraceptives, allegedly so as "not to make their customers uneasy". Hubert Ostendorf from the Coalition against Bayer Dangers comments: “Bayer is trying to establish hormone products as a standard contraceptive throughout the world, because their profits are enormous. That´s why the severe side effects are pushed into the background. The Coalition demands that all studies and all reported side effects be published.
Yaz/Yasmin is heavily advertised by Bayer, especially towards girls and young women, by promising reduction of weight and acne relief. In a television ad, for instance, Bayer claimed that Yaz "can help keep your skin clear," despite the fact that clinical studies have not concluded that taking Yaz results in acne-free skin. In the US Bayer hired Lauren Bosworth of MTVs The Hills as an endorser and spokeswoman for Yaz.
Yaz ads in the US also claimed that it would treat the symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. In October of 2008, Bayer was cited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for deceptive claims. The ads, said the FDA, were overstating the benefits of Yaz while distracting viewers from the risks. Bayer had to conduct a $20 million corrective advertising campaign. "Bayer's deceptive ad campaign led young women to believe that its oral contraceptive would cure symptoms for which it was not approved for use," the Californian Attorney General Edmund Brown said.