A hearing was held by Judge Herndon in the Yaz/Yasmin federal court proceedings on September 19, 2011. The hearing resolved disputes that had arisen between plaintiffs’ lawyers and the lawyers for drug maker over the scheduling of depositions for the expert witnesses that each side intends to present at trials. The judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, allowing more time to schedule the depositions so that the plaintiffs’ lawyers who were the most well-versed on the witnesses’ expertise could participate in the depositions.

Expert witnesses are required in all pharmaceutical cases to establish that the drug in question was capable of causing a particular side effect. In the Yaz and Yasmin cases, the plaintiffs’ experts will rely on epidemiology studies to prove that Yaz and Yasmin cause blood clots, strokes, pulmonary embolisms, deep vein thrombosis, and gallbladder issues. These epidemiology studies compare the experiences of two groups of women — one group that took Yaz or Yasmin, and one group that did not. If a higher percentage of the Yaz/Yasmin group suffered pulmonary embolisms (or deep vein thrombosis, or strokes, etc.) than the other group, the study will support expert testimony that Yaz causes pulmonary embolisms. The larger the discrepancy between the two groups, the stronger the study will be for proving “causation.”

These expert witnesses on Yaz-Yasmin causation can testify at a “general” level, or a “specific” level. At the general level, the experts testify that the drug is capable of causing a side effect — that based on medical science, we understand the mechanism by which Yaz or Yasmin interacts with the body and with particular organs to cause an increase in the formation of blood clots. They also testify that when observed in large groups of the general population, doctors actually diagnose more blood clots and clotting-related issues among users. This general causation testimony is required before the Yaz/Yasmin litigation can move forward.

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