More than 25,000 lawsuits could be filed across the United States for serious and deadly injuries allegedly caused by the contraceptive Yaz and consolidated in an Illinois federal court.
U.S. District Chief Judge David Herndon has been assigned the task of presiding over thousands of lawsuits against Bayer Corp. The cases accuse the birth-control pills Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella of causing women to suffer increased risks of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, gallbladder disease, and other life-threatening complications.
The lawsuits have been included in a consolidation proceeding called a multidistrict litigation (MDL). Cases which make similar legal claims against a common defendant are often sent to a single judge for pre-trial matters, including discovery and rulings on the admissibility of evidence.
The estimated 25,000 cases involved in the Yaz MDL would make the consolidation the largest ever assigned to the East St. Louis district, according to a report on Bnd.com.
Judge Herndon said in addition to handling the pre-trial matters, he may preside over a few â€œbellwetherâ€ trials to serve as examples for other trials to be conducted later around the country.
â€œThese trials will serve as a guideline for other cases,â€ Herndon said, according to Bnd.com. â€œThere will be a variety of dynamics which will be taken into account in the evaluation of cases.â€
Health problems linked to Yaz and the related contraceptives stem from their use of dropspirenone, a new type of progestin that is not used in other birth control pills available in the U.S. The hormone may increase the levels of potassium in the blood, causing a condition called hyperkalemia, which has also been linked to irregular heartbeat, cardiac arrest, and damage to nerves and muscle tissue.
Women who have sued Bayer claim the company failed to adequately warn them of the risks associated with Yaz and illegally marketed the drug for treatments the Food and Drug Administration has not approved. Yaz and the other drugs are contraceptives also approved to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder and moderate to severe acne.