Recently, two Pennsylvania pension funds have sued Germany’s largest drug-maker, Bayer AG. The lawsuit accuses Bayer of misrepresenting the safety and effectiveness of the birth-control pill Yaz. The complaint was filed in Philadelphia by the Philadelphia Firefighters Union Local No. 22 Health and Welfare Fund and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. According to the plaintiffs, Bayer unlawfully promoted Yaz from March 2006 to March 2009, by concealing side effects such as blood clots, heart attacks and pulmonary embolisms. Last year, Bayer’s top selling drugs were the Yaz family of oral contraceptives, known as Yaz, Yasmin, and Yasminelle. The complaint alleges that Yaz and Yasmin are the only birth control pills that contain drospirenone. Some studies demonstrate that drospirenone increases the level of potassium in the blood, which can lead to hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia in turn can lead to blood clots causing heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms and strokes. The lawsuit claims that Bayer promoted the drug in deceptive and misleading advertisements that concealed and minimized the risks of Yaz. There are also allegations that Bayer promoted Yaz for unapproved uses, such as acne treatment. After being sued by 27 states for consumer misrepresentation, earlier this year, Bayer agreed to spend $20 million dollars on corrective advertising.
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