Saturday, 25 May 2024

Woman reaches out to help others after suffering side effects of oral contraceptive

LUCERNE – Beth Minor’s heart was racing. Her hands were shaking to the point that the 29-year-old could not hold a pencil.

She began taking the oral contraceptive YAZ, also known as Yasmin (drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol), a product of Bayer Corp., in Oct. 2007. She took the pill for two months.

“I started experiencing tremors in my hands in November,” she said. “The tremors moved from my hands to my arms and legs. I'm told by my spouse that I tremble at night in my sleep.

“The symptoms continued to add up: tremors, fatigue, insomnia, muscle weakness, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, excessive perspiration, light periods, irritability and insatiable hunger. I thought I was losing my mind,” Minor said.

Her symptoms began after taking the pill for six weeks.

Minor went to her doctor who diagnosed her with Graves' disease (hyperthyroidism). Her thyroid levels are three to four times what they're supposed to be.

Another side effect of Graves' disease is difficulty getting pregnant. She took YAZ to “jump-start” her reproductive system, in order to become pregnant following the advice of her physician.

She reported her disease to MedWatch, the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) reporting site, Minor said.

Though her symptoms matched with listed possible side effects of YAZ, there is no medical evidence that Graves Disease is connected to the use of the drug.

“I never had any of these symptoms prior to taking the drug YAZ. It is painfully frustrating how my life has been impacted; there are days I cannot lift my toddler,” Minor said.

Minor discovered she wasn’t alone. She found a discussion forum online and received the following e-mail.

“My name is Erin Brockovich and I am in receipt of your e-mail forwarded onto me from Alex. I see that you are experiencing some health problems and have been on the pill YAZ,” the e-mail stated.

According to a Feb. 9 press release from Attorney General Jerry Brown, Bayer is required to launch a $20 million ad campaign to correct misleading information about YAZ.

Brown announced an agreement requiring Bayer Corp. to stop a “deceptive ad campaign” and publicly correct misleading assertions about the product.

“Bayer's deceptive ad campaign led young women to believe that its oral contraceptive would cure symptoms for which it was not approved for use,” Brown said. “This judgment modification forces the company to stop making those claims and spend $20 million correcting misleading assertions about the


Bayer claimed the drug could treat symptoms related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and acne, in addition to anxiety, tension, irritability, moodiness, fatigue, headaches and muscle aches. None of those claims were approved by the FDA.

The press release states, “The Attorney General's Office contends that the advertisements for YAZ violated a 2007 agreement with Bayer after the company failed to adequately disclose safety risks associated with the use of Baycol, a drug used to lower cholesterol, which was pulled from the market in August 2001. The agreement required future marketing, sale, and promotion of pharmaceutical and biological products to comply with all legal requirements, and prohibited Bayer from making false or misleading claims relating to any products sold in the United States.”

The states joining California's agreement are Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

Minor is participating in a class-action lawsuit as a result of her experiences with YAZ. She wants to make others aware of her symptoms to shed some light on the possibility that others may be suffering the same health problems.

“The lawsuit includes the heart and lung problems that are being reported too,” Minor said.

According to YAZ Web site at the most frequent side effects, listed in descending order, reported with the use of the contraception in clinical trials, include upper respiratory infection, headache, breast pain, vaginal moniliasis, leukorrhea, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, vaginitis, abdominal pain, flu syndrome, dysmenorrhea, moniliasis, allergic reaction, urinary tract infection, accidental injury, cystitis, tooth disorder, sore throat, infection, fever, surgery, sinusitis, back pain, emotional lability, migraine, suspicious Papanicolaou smear, dyspepsia, rhinitis, acne, gastroenteritis, bronchitis, pharyngitis, skin disorder, intermenstrual bleeding, decreased libido, weight gain, pain, depression, increased cough, dizziness, menstrual disorder, pain in extremity, pelvic pain and asthenia.

E-mail Mandy Feder at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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