That staticky voice blurting out from the receiver was easy enough to identify as a telemarketer. The instinct to hang up was temporarily suspended as the disembodied voice inquired about my use of birth control, specifically whether or not I'd ever used Yaz, Yasmin, Oscella, or the Nuvaring.
The recorded message alerted me that if I used any of the mentioned contraceptives, I might be eligible for some sort of compensation, because they had been found to cause "serious heart problems."
It seems some attorneys were using WCA subscriber services to troll for plaintiffs. New research ties Yaz, its predecessor, Yasmin, and the generic version, Oscella, to increased risks of blood clots and dangerously high levels of potassium. And the drugs' manufacturer, Bayer, has been grappling with over 11,000 lawsuits brought by women suffering from the drug's side effects.
According to Drug Watch,
a website sponsored by a law firm that focuses on pharmaceutical-based injuries, girls as young as 13 were dying from blood clots.
Bayer began marketing Yasmin in 2001, followed by Yaz in 2006. The company directed its advertisements at younger women, suggesting the birth control could help reduce acne, PMS, and bloating. Before long, it was one of the most popular birth control pills on the market. In 2010, Bayer made $$1.58 billion in sales from Yaz.
Yaz and its counterparts were different from many other forms of birth control in that it included drospirenone, a synthetic progestin that can cause stroke, heart attack, high cholesterol, or gallstones.
By 2011, Yaz sales dropped by 80 percent as more women reported suffering from side effects that they hadn't been adequately warned about and began seeking compensation. The Food and Drug Administration
intervened earlier this year, requiring Bayer to better label the drug. Follow us on Twitter at @SFWeekly and @TheSnitchSF