Federal court Judge David R. Herndon has announced that the first trial in MDL 2100 – “Yasmin and Yaz (drospirenone) Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation”- has moved to January 2012. This announcement came in May 2011, that trial would start in January 2012. The case selected for trial is a Yaz blood clot case that resulted in pulmonary embolism case. Around 6000 cases, involving 8,000 individual plaintiffs have been transferred to Judge Herndon’s court, which was designated as the Multi-District Litigation court for all such cases in the federal court system.  The vast majority of these lawsuits were against the makers of Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella, which is a generic version of Yaz, where the alleged injury is related to blood clots.

Yaz and Yasmin are oral contraceptive drugs manufactured by Bayer pharmaceuticals. Both these drugs are oral contraceptive pills. Both of them contain ethinyl estradiol (estrogen) and drospirenone. Yaz contains 3mg of drospirenone and 0.02 mg of ethinyl estradiol per tablet, whereas Yasmin contains 3 mg of drospirenone and 0.03 mg of ethinyl estradiol per tablet. Yasmin is prescribed for prevention of pregnancy only, whereas Yaz has been approved by FDA for treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder and moderate acne too. Yaz and Yasmin have been linked to many severe side effects, such as blood clots, gallbladder diseases and gallstone problems, pulmonary embolism and deep vein thromboembolism (DVT).

Many lawsuits have been filed alleging these drugs have caused severe health problems. These lawsuits are related to blood clots leading to heart attacks and pulmonary embolism, gallbladder diseases and DVT.  Although most of the lawsuits were filed in courts where the victims lived, court procedures allowed Bayer and the other defendants to transfer many of these cases to the federal court in Illinois.  The cases are consolidated in Judge Herndon’s court, where the court coordinates the efforts of getting all 6,000 cases ready for separate trials.  One of the first trials from this consolidated proceeding is scheduled for January 2012.

This trial was scheduled in response to a March 2011 motion was filed in Judge Herndon’s court by the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC), which is a representative group of the lawyers working for the injured women. The PSC’s motion requested a modification of the court’s previously-announced the Bellwether Trial Selection Plan. The PSC suggested to the federal judge that the trial of the first case should be one related to pulmonary embolism.  The court apparently agreed and scheduled this test case to go before a jury in January.

After this motion, the prior date fixed for the first trial (September 12) was cancelled, and a new case management order was announced. This order contained the modified plan of selection of a set of cases, from which the judge would pick the first case for trial. Each side submitted its selections for trial, and in May 2011 the judge selected the first trial case from these groups.  The trial is scheduled for January 2012.  While this first trial will set important precedents that will impact the likelihood of future settlements, the jury’s decision will only affect that one Yaz blood clot case.  Additional trials will be required to decide the fate of other women  who have suffered due to use of these drugs.  In most cases, it is not too late to file a new claim.

Meanwhile, first bellwether trial regarding deep vain thromboembolism or DVT is also scheduled for trial in June 2012. There are more bellwether trials in line, which are related to individual side effects caused by use of Yaz and/or Yasmin. The FDA is going through a study on blood clots formed by use of Yaz or Yasmin. This study was planned after a British study revealed that drosperinone, an active ingredient in both these medicines, can cause blood clots and pose a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in patients using these drugs. The result of the FDA study is eagerly awaited, as it can affect many Yaz-Yasmin lawsuits seeking compensation for those patients who took Yaz or Yasmin developed of DVT.