Yaz is a popular birth control pill along with its cousin Yasmin. Both these drugs are produced by Bayer Pharmaceuticals. Lately Yaz has been in news for all the wrong reasons. It has played a central role in a lot of legal battles against Bayer pharmaceuticals. Patients or their relatives who have suffered serious side effects as a result of using Yaz have filed these lawsuits. It is being linked to several fatal side effects. These severe side effects include blood clots, pulmonary embolism, deep vain thrombosis, heart problems and even death in some patients using it. It is a new generation oral contraceptive, which uses the synthetic hormone drospirenone as an active ingredient. Drospirenone is linked with risk of blood clot and elevated levels of potassium in the blood. The risk of developing clots after its use is much higher than patients using other forms of contraceptive.

These blood clots, which are a result of using Yaz, could be fatal. These clots can travel to heart and once there could result in a heart attack or other cardiovascular problems. They can move to lungs and cause pulmonary embolism. They can even lead to death.  Drospirenone, combined with another active ingredient of Yaz and Yasmin (called ethinyl estradiol), can cause severe gallbladder diseases.

The Food and Drug Administration had also criticized Bayer for making false claims about the actual benefits of the pill. FDA has warned Yaz and Yasmin both could increase the risk of blood clots by 74 per cent, compared with other pills on the market. The FDA relied upon the findings of a study that evaluated health data from over 800,000 women below the age of 55 years old.  Both Yaz and Yasmin contain drospirenone, which could also cause higher levels of potassium in blood. The resulting blood clots could increase the risk of pulmonary embolism and deep vain thrombosis and even result into heart attack and death.

A Danish one released earlier had also concluded that birth control pills containing the hormone drospirenone (such as Yaz and Yasmin) double the risk of blood clots. Many similar studies have come to the same conclusion.

The FDA has scheduled a meeting on December 8th to discuss the findings of these studies related to side effects of Yaz and Yasmin. This meeting will include representatives from both the Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee.

In April 2010, the FDA had issued a warning regarding thromboembolism in women using Yasmin. The warning was based on two additional epidemiological studies. The risk of thromboembolism in Yasmin users is much higher than users of other contraceptives.

Other studies have linked it to gallbladder diseases too. Yaz could elevate cholesterol level in the body, which can result in disturbance to the gallbladder system. The final outcome could be development of gallstones. Yaz can also reduce the gallbladder’s contractions. This leads to deposition of bile in gallbladder and can result in inflammation. This condition is known as acute acalculous gallbladder disease. Patient may need to get his gallbladder removed to treat this problem.

These studies have landed Bayer Healthcare in troubled water. If the FDA meeting leads to a recall of Yaz and Yasmin, Bayer will not only lose future revenues from sales of the drugs, the decision will most likely increase the amounts Bayer will have to pay to settle Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits.