In addition to being linked to blood clots, Bayer’s blockbuster birth control pill Yasmin (generic: drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol) has recently been associated with gallbladder disease. At Schmidt & Clark, LLP, we believe that Bayer knew or should have known about the risk of gallbladder disease associated with its best-selling drug, yet failed to adequately warn the public and medical communities about these problems. Signs and symptoms of Yasmin-induced gallbladder disease may include moderate to severe pain under the right side of the rib cage, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting.
Yasmin Gallbladder Disease Lawsuit Update 3/21/13: This week, Bayer Healthcare reportedly agreed to pay out as much as $24 million to settle gallbladder disease lawsuits involving its controversial Yaz and Yasmin birth control pills. Specifically, the company agreed to settlement payments of $2,000 to women who suffered gallbladder injuries, and $3,000 for women’s injuries which were so severe that their gallbladders had to be removed.
What’s the Problem with Yasmin?
First approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001, Yasmin is a combination oral contraceptive composed of drospirenone, a progestin, and ethinyl estradiol, an estrogen. Yaz was approved five years later in 2006, and it is essentially the same drug, except that it contains a slightly higher amount of estrogen. The drospirenone contained in both Yaz and Yasmin is a diuretic, which creates unique risks that have the potential to lead to serious side effects like gallbladder disease.
Gallbladder Disease Overview
The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ located under the liver whose primary function is to store bile, a fluid made by the liver to digest fat. As the stomach and intestines digest foods, the gallbladder releases bile through a tube called the common bile duct. Problems with the gallbladder may arise if something blocks the flow of bile through the bile ducts.
Types of gallbladder disease include:
- Cholecystitis – Sudden inflammation of the gallbladder that causes severe abdominal pain. Cholecystitis occurs when bile becomes trapped in the gallbladder. The buildup of bile causes irritation and pressure which can lead to infection and a hole in the organ.
- Cholelithiasis – Commonly referred to as gallstones, cholelithiasises are hard, pebble-like deposits that form inside the gallbladder. Gallstones may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. In most cases, gallstones are made of cholesterol or bilirubin, which occurs when red blood cells are being destroyed (hemolysis).
Symptoms of Gallbladder Disease
Signs and symptoms of Yasmin-induced gallbladder disease may include:
- Pain, mostly on the upper right side of the abdomen
- Pain following meals, intolerance of fatty foods
- Loss of appetite
Treatment & Prognosis (Outlook)
In most cases, gallbladders that cause pain are usually removed, since there are no known problems caused by living without a gallbladder. Most gallbladder removal surgeries are performed with a laparoscope, a device that shows the surgeon pictures of the organ as it is being removed. Laparoscopy allows for a smaller incision and a shorter stay in the hospital than more conventional treatment methods.
Additionally, a number of prescription medications have been found to have the ability to dissolve gallstones, eliminating the need for surgery. However, it can take as long as two years or more for a stone to dissolve, and they often come back later.
If you are suffering from gallbladder disease, you should consult your physician before initiating any alternative treatment. Your doctor can help you determine the remedies that are right for your situation. Always be sure to work with a provider who is knowledgeable in complementary medicine to find the right mix of treatments for you.
Yasmin Side Effects
In addition to having the potential to cause gallbladder disease, Yasmin has also been linked to the following serious side effects:
- Heart Attack
- Cardiac Arrhythmia
- Pulmonary Embolism (an artery in the lung is blocked)
- Blood Clots (Non-Vaginal)
- Kidney Failure
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Venous Thromboembolism (VTE)
- Hepatic Adenomas
- Sudden Death