March 21, 2013 – Pharmaceutical giant Bayer Healthcare has reportedly agreed to pay out as much as $24 million to settle gallbladder disease lawsuits involving its controversial Yaz and Yasmin birth control pills. Thousands of such claims have been filed in courthouses around the country alleging that Bayer failed to adequately warn of the potential health risks associated with using the drugs. In addition to being linked to gallbladder disease, Yaz and Yasmin have been associated with life-threatening blood clots and other serious side effects.
What’s the problem?
Bayer has agreed to Yaz and Yasmin 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. However, the settlement agreement is capped at $24 million, and individual awards may be reduced on a pro-rata basis if the total of all awards surpasses that figure. Details of the settlement were announced in a case management order issued earlier this week by U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon, who is overseeing the Yaz Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) that has been consolidated in the Southern District of Illinois.
The agreement was reached following negotiations between Bayer and a committee of lawyers representing women who filed Yaz and Yasmin gallbladder disease lawsuits. In addition to the complaints filed on the federal level, the settlement also applies to claims filed in California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and other state courts. In order to successfully participate in the settlement agreement, a lawsuit must be filed and served before March 25, 2013 at 11:50 central time. Plaintiffs whose cases only involve allegations of gallbladder injuries then have until April 29 to opt out of the settlement.
For women who have filed claims involving both gallbladder disease and blood clot injuries, plaintiffs must agree to participate by April 29, which is also subject to a one-time 30 day extension. However, Yaz settlements for blood clots (pulmonary embolisms and deep vein thrombosis) have been averaging over $200,000 per claim. To date, Bayer has paid out more than $1 billion to resolve nearly 5,000 Yaz and Yasmin blood clot lawsuits. On the federal level, the Yaz and Yasmin MDL has grown to become the largest consolidated litigation in the United States, having surpassed the asbestos litigation last year.