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Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella Overview

Millions of women take the popular birth control pills Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella. Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals manufactures Yaz and Yasmin. Bayer also manufactures Ocella, a generic form of Yasmin. It then distributes the medication to Barr Laboratories and Teva USA Pharmaceuticals.

Yasmin, Yaz, and Ocella are all brand names for birth control pills containing the same active ingredients: ethinyl estradiol (an estrogen) and drospirenone (a progestin).

These drugs also share similar potential benefits and risks. While they may have slight variations in dosages or formulations, they are all part of the same category of birth control pills that combine these specific hormones to prevent pregnancy.

We'll explain how these birth control medications work. We'll also discuss some of the adverse side effects and health risks of Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella. Finally, we'll describe the steps to take if you become sick after using any of these contraceptive pills.

How Do Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella Work?

Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella prevent pregnancy by suppressing a woman's ovaries from releasing eggs. Besides preventing pregnancy, gynecologists also prescribe Yaz to treat other medical conditions.

These oral contraceptives also treat the following health conditions:

  • Moderate acne in young women over 14
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) in women who wish to avoid pregnancy

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved Yaz to treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Like other oral contraceptives, the use of Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella does not protect women from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or HIV.

Side Effects of Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella

Most prescription medications have adverse side effects. This applies to Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella as well. Most of these side effects are minor. Most patients report that the benefits of these oral contraceptives outweigh the potential side effects.

The common side effects of Yaz include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mood changes
  • Loss of libido

Yaz may also cause irregular periods in some women. But most Yaz patients say the drug helps regulate their monthly periods.

The side effects of Yasmin and Ocella are like those of Yaz. The severe side effects of Yasmin include the following:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Longer periods
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue

Experts warn that taking Yasmin (or any oral contraception medication) is dangerous for smokers. The incidence of cardiovascular events is much higher for women who smoke.

Finally, people who take Ocella should consider the following side effects before taking the generic version of Yaz/Yasmin:

  • Headache disorder
  • Severe cramping
  • Breast growth
  • Abdominal distension
  • Mastalgia
  • High blood pressure

If you experience any of these side effects, seek immediate medical attention. You may also want to talk to a product liability attorney. Depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, you may be able to recover money damages.

Health Complications of These Birth Control Drugs

Besides the above side effects, researchers have linked Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella to serious health complications. Many women have reported the following health issues while taking birth control pills:

  • Increased risk of blood clots
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Vision loss

In a handful of cases, women taking these medications have died from severe health complications. Like other combination oral contraceptives, Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella may also cause serious harm to women who are over 35 and smoke cigarettes.

FDA Warning Letter and Settlement

In October 2008, the FDA issued a warning letter to Bayer. In its letter, the FDA alleged that two of Bayer's television commercials violated FDA law.

The allegations said that Bayer violated the law in the following ways:

  • The TV ads broadened Yaz's indication: According to the FDA, the ads misleadingly suggested that the FDA had approved Yaz to treat PMS and all types of acne.
  • The commercials overstated Yaz's efficacy: The TV ads inaccurately suggested that taking Yaz would result in clear, acne-free skin.
  • The advertisements minimized the health risks of taking Yaz: The visuals and music distract viewers from understanding the severe and life-threatening dangers.

In February 2009, the FDA and 27 state attorneys general settled with Bayer. Bayer agreed to spend $20 million on corrective TV ads for the drug. Bayer also promised to submit its ads for Yaz to the FDA for approval through 2015.

FDA Mandates Changes to Label Warnings

Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella all contain the progestin hormone drospirenone. In 2018, an FDA-funded study found that women taking drospirenone-containing birth control pills had a 1.5 times higher risk of developing blood clots than women who took other progestin-containing oral contraceptives.

Another study found the risk for blood clots to be three times higher for women taking these drugs versus women taking other types of progestin-containing birth control pills.

Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella Lawsuits

Many plaintiffs have filed product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers and suppliers of Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella. Most of these cases involved blood clot injuries.

As of February 2018, Bayer had paid almost $1 billion to settle thousands of blood clot lawsuits. As part of the settlement, plaintiffs agreed that Bayer was admitting no wrongdoing. This included a $57 million settlement of multi-district litigation (MDL) cases from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California.

The MDL included more than 12,000 claims. A few thousand of these cases were still pending in 2018. The plaintiffs in these cases alleged that Bayer's oral contraceptives caused arterial blood clots, heart attack, stroke, and gallbladder injuries.

Basis for Oral Contraception Litigation

In the birth control lawsuits, plaintiffs argued that the birth control pills' designs were defective because drospirenone allegedly makes the pills unreasonably dangerous for consumers. The lawsuits also alleged that the drug manufacturers failed to warn patients of the risks associated with the oral contraceptives.

Some plaintiffs have also filed medical malpractice claims, arguing that their health care provider failed to warn them about the birth control pills' risks. They also argued that their doctors negligently prescribed the oral contraceptive.

Getting Legal Help

If you or a loved one experiences dangerous symptoms or unusual medical conditions while taking Yaz, Yasmin, or Ocella, seek medical attention. You should also contact an experienced product liability attorney to discuss your options and protect your legal rights.

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