Last Thursday, the FDA met to discuss the safety and future of several birth control drugs, including Yasmin and its sister pill Yaz, both manufactured by Bayer. These drugs contain a hormone called drospirenone, which is not found in any other of the birth control pills sold in America except for the new Beyaz and Safyral, also made by Bayer.
According to Bayer, drospirenone-based pills are unique in their ability to help reduce severe PMS symptoms. But it turns out that they also cause an increased risk of life-threatening blood clots—1.5 times higher than other hormone-based birth control pills. The result is that 10 women in every 10,000 who take Yasmin and Yaz will experience a blood clot, which can result in permanent debilitating conditions or even death.
To be clear, the kind of things we’re talking about here are healthy women in their 20s and 30s suddenly getting life-threatening pulmonary embolisms, and some of them dying from it. This actually happens to roughly 10 out of 10,000 women who take Yasmin and Yaz. Women who suffered from blood clots and survived testified at the FDA hearing on Thursday, along with the families of women who were killed by blood clots after taking Yasmin, Yaz and other drospirenone-based pills.
One of them was Cindy Rippe, whose daughter 20-year-old Elizabeth died three years ago from pulmonary embolisms two months after she switched to Yasmin.
"Elizabeth was a very smart young woman," Rippe told the panel. "If Elizabeth had been clearly warned that Yasmin had more risk – maybe twice as much risk as other pills – she never would have switched to Yasmin – never. And she would be alive today." –NPR
Nevertheless, 15 of the FDA’s 26 expert advisors ruled on Thursday that the benefits of drospirenone-based contraceptives like Yasmin outweigh the risks, and the drugs will remain on the market. The FDA is expected to issue stronger warnings on Yasmin and Yaz about the risks of blood clots, but nobody knows exactly when or what the effect on market sales will be.