Saturday, August 8, 2015 - A $56.9 million settlement has been made between pharmaceutical company Bayer and plaintiffs represented in roughly 1,200 nationwide lawsuits related to the defendant‘s drugs Yasmin and Yaz, as well as the manufacturers of the generic version Ocella. The settlement will resolve a majority of the multidistrict litigation lawsuits against the pharmaceutical manufacturers that made the birth control drugs that allegedly caused serious blood complications for plaintiffs.
The lawsuits were first consolidated into multidistrict litigation in 2009 and peaked at more than 12,000 lawsuits. The plaintiffs represented in the lawsuits claim that the birth control medications at the heart of the lawsuits led to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke for patients that were prescribed the drugs. Many of the lawsuits also claimed plaintiffs suffered from venous blood clots caused by the medications.
The Yasmin, Yaz and Ocella settlement brings an end to the multidistrict litigation that has already resulted in more than $2 billion for plaintiffs who claimed to have been affected by the venous blood clots caused by the drug. These claims included allegations that the drugs led to deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms. Though the dollar amount on the settlements look high, the drugs were incredibly profitable for the manufacturers when they were on the market, creating $1.5 billion in revenue in 2010 alone.
The birth control medication named in the lawsuits contained an ingredient called drospirenone, which was named as the cause of the blood clots names in the lawsuits. In addition to gallbladder injuries and the clotting problems the medications caused, plaintiffs also claimed that heart attacks and strokes had been tied to the medication.
The lawsuits were originally consolidated into multidistrict litigation in 2009 in the Southern District of Illinois before U.S. District Judge David Herndon. The litigation was preparing for a bellwether trial set to take place in November at the time of the settlement. After reaching more than 12,000 lawsuits, settlements began to come from the defendants, with only 3,400 lawsuits remaining by February of 2015.
After staying the proceedings of the multidistrict litigation against Bayer many times, the judge overseeing the case was not happy in February with the progress of the settlements and claimed that he believed Bayer was not acting in good faith in their dealings with the plaintiffs. Many of these stays delayed bellwether trials, which saved the defendants money, because they were expected to make settlements in lieu of the trials. The defendants claimed that some plaintiffs were filing duplicate lawsuits, as well as alleging that many of them had never taken the birth control pill. These claims did not make it far in court, however.
For the settlement to go into effect, at least 97.5 percent of eligible class members have to submit a opt in to the deal. Bayer agreed to the settlement without admitting any wrongdoing in connection with the claims filed against the company. The settlement also covers Yasmin, Yaz and Ocella lawsuits filed in California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.