Birth control medications are sold under a variety of brand names and prescribed for three primary purposes: 1.) preventing pregnancy, 2.) managing hormonal imbalances, and 3) reducing the symptoms of gynecological issues like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, and irregular bleeding.
The most common birth control pill comprises two ingredients, drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol. Drospirenone (progestin) is a synthetic form of the naturally-occurring hormone progesterone. Ethinyl estradiol is a semisynthetic form of estrogen. In combination, these ingredients formulate an effective contraceptive that prevent pregnancy when taken daily.
Severe side effects of birth control medication
When birth control pills are not formulated properly, the imbalance—deficiency or surplus—of hormones in the body can lead to severe side effects, including the following:
- Blurred vision
- Pain or swelling in legs
- Headaches that can be severe
- Mild to significant stomach pain (cramps)
- Chest pain
- Increased risk of heart attack, stroke or blood clots
- Decreased blood sugar
- Gallbladder issues
Bayer's Deceit Led to One of the Largest Pharma Lawsuit Settlements in History
One of the most infamous birth control medications is ocella, sold under the brand name Yasmin. An essentially similar drug is sold under the brand name Yaz. After FDA approval in 2006, Yaz quickly became the go-to birth control medication in the United States, experiencing sales of $781 million in 2009 alone.
In 2009, the FDA found evidence that some batches of Yaz contained an unsafe level of drospirenone, an ingredient linked to an increased risk of blood clots. As a result, the FDA recalled 32,856 boxes of Yaz and 122,208 boxes of ocella. This led to historic lawsuit settlements for Yaz, Yasmin, and ocella patients.
- 2013 - $21.5 million settlement was achieved for Yaz and Yasmin patients who experienced serious gallbladder injuries.
- 2015 - A payout of $2.04 billion was awarded to plaintiffs who experienced blood clots after taking Yaz or Yasmin.
- 2015 - $56.9 million settlement was reached due to the unknown risk of heart attack and stroke for patients who took Yaz, Yasmin, or ocella.
Many formulations of birth control rely on the same underlying ingredients as Yaz, drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol. Before taking birth control medication, be sure to have a lengthy conversation with your doctor about the risks and side effects.