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Bayer's Pill of Peril: Birth Control Lawsuits Double to 2,000

If you're interested in getting to the truth of whether Bayer (BAY.DE)'s Yaz contraceptive pill is truly dangerous or not, you're in for a long wait. The Madison Record reports that the number of cases filed against Bayer in federal district court has doubled to 2,000, and that the company is in the midst of handing over 10 million pages of documents in discovery. There are another 400 cases in a New Jersey state court, and some in Philadelphia.

As expected, sales of Yaz dropped 15 percent after Teva (TEVA) began selling a cheap generic copy in June.

If Yaz's unique formulation really does increase blood clots that can cause fatal heart attacks and strokes, Teva's marketing will increase the number of women at risk. More healthcare reimbursers are likely to cover generic Yaz because it's so much cheaper than Bayer's version.

Clarity on that issue is probably months or years away because, according to plaintiffs lawyers, Bayer is playing dirty tricks as it hands over documents in the suit. The Record reports:

Janet Abaray of Cincinnati said she could never find an entire document from beginning to end with all attachments.

She said things clumped together, search capacity didn't work, and components were not properly coded.

Her colleague Timothy Coon of White Plains, N.Y. said pages were scanned out of order because the scanning team didn't go through boxes in sequence.

[Judge] Herndon asked [plaintiffs, Michael Burg of Englewood, Colo.,] Burg if he had any information that they did it purposefully to frustrate the litigation.

Burg said he didn't know because he didn't take depositions about it.

Abaray said Bayer's original handling of documents made a search impossible.

There won't be any detail on how Bayer's replacement product for Yaz, Natazia, has fared until Q3, as it was only launched in May. That drug contains yet another new combination of estrogen and progestin, and therefore another new set of mysteries about its risk for blood clots in the mass market.

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Image by Flickr user Gnarls Monkey, CC.
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