Allegations that Bayer’s birth control pill Yasmin caused blood clots in young women are now pending in Switzerland and France.
The latest news comes from the Swiss where according to Reuters, Switzerland’s biggest health insurer CSS is supporting a young woman in her claim against Bayer, as the fall-out from alleged side effects of the German drugmaker’s contraceptive pill widens.
CSS said it supported its client in her claim against Bayer and is acting as a joint plaintiff. The health insurer is demanding payment from Bayer to cover medical costs.
Swiss media reported the young woman suffered from a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in her lung, that left her severely disabled a few weeks after being prescribed the pill. The cost of medical treatment has amounted to some 600,000 Swiss francs ($648,600), according to reports.
A Bayer spokesman said the company could not comment on pending lawsuits but added the Yasmin group of pills had a positive risk-benefit profile based on extensive scientific data. He also said the decision which contraceptive to take rests with the patient and her doctor.
Bayer has so far agreed to pay a combined $750 million to settle 3,490 legal claims in the United States that Yasmin caused blood clots, and such injuries are alleged in a further 3,800 pending U.S. cases.
U.S. health regulators have added warnings to the labels on the pills to show they may raise the risk of blood clots.
Revenues from the Yasmin group of birth-control pills, Bayer’s second-best selling pharmaceutical brand, are also in decline because of cheaper generic copies that are for sale in United States.
Bayer is already under fire in other markets over new-generation contraceptives.
In France a woman sued Bayer in mid-December, saying her stroke was caused by the contraceptive Méliane, a third-generation pill that contains gestodene, a form of progestin.
Therefore they are also acting on concerns that the pills carry a higher risk of blood clots than older birth-control brands, and France’s health ministry will stop paying for third-generation pills beginning March 31.
The French moves follow the FDA’s long-term review of some lower-dose contraceptives. After new studies suggested a higher risk of serious blood clots with birth-control pills containing drospirenone, the agency in 2011 asked an advisory committee to weigh the data. The committee backed the pills in a 15-11 vote but suggested a labeling update. Then, in April, the FDA added data on the pills’ clotting risks to their official labels.
Bayer maintains that its own research hasn’t turned up any additional risk with its newer pills when compared with older contraceptives.[hr]