In May of 2010, 28-year-old Petra Zele was a young, vibrant woman living out her dreams in Australia. Like many her age, she was taking Yasmin, one of the most popular birth control pills at the time.
However, less than a week later, she would be dead from a massive pulmonary embolism blood clot in her lungs.
Last week, a coroner reporting on Zele’s case confirmed before a panel that it was her belief the girl’s death was caused by her birth control pill.
Unfortunately, Petra’s case is not unique. Since 2006, more than 20,000 young women taking Yaz or Yasmin around the world have suffered severe blood clots that can cause deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism in the lungs, or stroke. Hundreds have died.
The risk has been traced to the hormone chemical drospirenone used in both drugs. Although it was developed to lessen the general side effects of birth control, it has the tendency to increase potassium levels in the bloodstream. This raises the risk of blood clots by up to 74%.
Petra reported to her doctor on May 27, 2010 with serious chest pains, then collapsed while her father was taking her to the hospital. By May 31, she would be pronounced brain dead and taken off life support the next day.
Coroner Sarah Linton testified before a committee last month that her death was likely due to her taking Yasmin.
Women Petra’s age who regularly take birth control aren’t usually predisposed to blood clots. However, in those rare cases of ones who are, taking Yaz or Yasmin can actually increase their blood clot risks 30 times.
Australia’s drug regulation agency, as well as the FDA here in the United States, have issued warnings about Yaz blood clot risks since 2011. However, that was too late to help many.
Since 2012, Bayer, who manufacturers the drugs, has paid out almost $2 billion in Yasmin and Yaz settlements to those hurt. The cases continue to this day, but lawyers say time is limited to join the claim.
DrugNews maintains an extensive resource on the ongoing research into the safety of birth control drugs, as well as litigation against those companies who hide the risks of their drugs. For more information, or to talk with an attorney about legal help, give us a call.
Last summer, the Department of Justice unveiled the details of an ongoing lawsuit and resulting settlement against industrial giant 3M, claiming the company had furnished defective combat earplugs to millions of U.S. troops serving around the world.