Pills, patches and medical devices intended to prevent pregnancy are as easily attainable these days as medicine to cure the common cold, but most women are not familiar with the dangerous side effects associated with their chosen form of birth control. Recently, however, there have been numerous reports of injury connected to two forms of birth control: the combined oral contraceptive pill (commonly referred to as the “birth control pill”) and the intrauterine device (IUD).
According to recent studies, the birth control pill is the most popular form of birth control among women between the ages of 15 and 44. Approximately ten million women are prescribed the birth control pill in the United States alone. Nevertheless, some of the newest forms of the pill, those containing the hormone drospirenone (a fourth-generation progestin), have been shown to cause a high risk of blood clots in the women who take them. Other complications include gallbladder disease, elevated potassium levels, pulmonary embolism, stroke and death. The French National Agency for the Safety of Drugs and Health Products reported that between the years 2000 and 2011 the third- and fourth-generation progestin pills were responsible for nearly twice as many deaths as the earlier forms of the pill.
Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceutical’s Yaz, Yasmin and BeYaz are three of the most-litigated birth control medications. Over the last few years, Bayer has faced a flood of lawsuits over the pills’ reportedly high risk for blood clots, and an onslaught of negative press after the company was slammed for its misleading advertisements. In July of this year, the pharmaceutical company settled nearly 7,000 claims for a total of $1.4 billion. Nearly 5,500 claims related to these drugs and their generic counterparts, Ocella and Gianvi, are still pending.
The birth control pill isn’t the only method of contraceptive that has been found to have serious risks associated with it. Recently, certain IUDs have been shown to be defective. An IUD is a small plastic device that is implanted into a woman’s uterus. It is intended to prevent unwanted pregnancy for up to five years by releasing small doses of the hormone levonorgestrel. The associated risks include: perforation of the uterine wall, embedment in the uterine wall, ectopic pregnancy, intrauterine pregnancy, sepsis and pelvic inflammatory disease. Bayer’s IUD, Mirena, is the most recent birth control device to become the subject of litigation.
On September 20, 2013, a lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey on behalf of a Tennessee woman who suffered significant injuries when her IUD became dislodged and migrated outside her uterus. The plaintiff is suing to recover for severe and permanent physical injuries, pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages. The lawsuit alleges that Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceutical knew that Mirena was defective and failed to warn consumers of the risks.