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YAZ Misleading Advertising: The Offhand Response to the FDA


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Berlex and Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals have both been warned by the FDA to clarify the content of their advertisements for Yasmin and YAZ.

Over the last 9 years, the advertising for these oral contraceptives has been misleading and dismissive of the risks associated with the drug. Finally, Bayer has responded to the FDA warnings. But is the response appropriate?

YAZ has been portrayed as a radical, wonderful, superior new birth control choice. Advertising has referred to the progestin used (drospirenone) as “unique” and implied that it makes the product better than other oral contraceptives on the market. These same ads overstate YAZ's capability for reducing women's acne and improving moods and minimize the medical risks. In reality, drospirenone presents high risks as well as multiple side effects.

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Bayer has agreed to spend $20 million over the next 6 years on advertising to correct the misconceptions as well as submitting all of their ads to the FDA prior to releasing them to the public. Is this really enough? YAZ accumulated sales of over $616 million last year. $20 million over 6 years seems a very small amount when considering the potential damage caused by the misinformation.

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Bayer's first crack at compliance is currently airing with great frequency on cable and network stations. A woman in a club walks toward the camera stating, “You may have seen some YAZ commercials recently that were not clear. The FDA wants us to correct a few points in those ads.”

The woman in the commercial speaks in a condescending tone. Her demeanor implies that the FDA is foolishly asking for information that is really not necessary. The tone of the ad gives the impression that the information is obvious and should not deter anyone from using YAZ. In fact, at the end of the commercial, the tagline “Beyond Birth Control” shares the screen with the product name/logo.

The spoken content of the ad summarizes the health risks associated with YAZ, clarifying that the product is not to be used in treatment of PMS or mild acne. It describes PMDD and lists symptoms onscreen. The advertisement is mostly a recitation of the problems identified by the FDA in the previous marketing.

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After Bayer pays its $20 million penance, what will change? Based on the huge profits raked in through YAZ sales and their track record, this multi-billion dollar business isn't likely to worry about disseminating perfectly accurate information to the public. In fact, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see the return of the YAZ symptom balloons as they take all of our maladies away.

If you would like a free Yaz/Yasmin lawsuit consultation from one of our Yamin lawyers, please fill out the form on this page or call us toll free at 866-761-1385.

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