Six-year case settled over allegations that company hid blood clot risk information
FRANKFORT, KY. (Oct. 23, 2019) – Attorney General Andy Beshear has secured a $17 million settlement with Bayer Corporation, a U.S. subsidiary of Germany-based Bayer AG, over claims that it misled Kentucky women about risks associated with its birth control drugs, Yasmin and Yaz.
The settlement resolves a 2013 lawsuit, brought by the Office of the Attorney General and continued by Beshear. The suit alleged from 2007 to 2012, and again after 2015, Bayer failed to provide accurate marketing information to women about scientific evidence that indicated the two drugs (containing drospirenone) create a higher risk for blood clots compared to similar contraceptives containing first-generation progestins.
After litigation fees, a portion of the settlement will be available for the General Assembly to appropriate during the next budget session. Beshear said he would like to see the funds used to help Kentuckians access affordable health care and address other public health needs.
“As attorney general, I have stood up to major pharmaceutical companies that have put profits ahead of our Kentucky families and I am proud of our office’s work to finally resolve this case,” Beshear said. “With these millions of dollars, we can truly help improve the health and safety of our Kentucky families by directing these funds to address pressing public health needs including making sure the state never again has the nation’s largest hepatitis A outbreak.”
The 2013 lawsuit grew from a 2007 consent judgement Kentucky entered into with other states and Bayer over deceptive marketing of its cholesterol-lowering drug, Baycol. Bayer agreed to a prohibition on making any false or misleading representations of those products.
Beshear argued that the actions alleged in the 2013 lawsuit regarding the marketing of Yasmin and Yaz were in violation of the 2007 consent judgement.
While Bayer does not admit liability for its actions, part of the settlement will go to pay the state’s investigation costs, litigation fees and other costs associated with developing the case, as set forth in a competitively bid contingency fee contract awarded by the previous administration. Pursuant to that contract, a fee will be paid to outside counsel for their work on the case.
Beshear is also urging the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to review the latest information regarding the risks of these drospirenone-containing drugs and to ensure consumers and doctors are fully informed.
Kentuckians who think they have been harmed should seek a private attorney. Bayer previously settled thousands of cases with women who suffered injuries from blood clots after taking its drug.
Kentucky and other states also secured an order against Bayer in 2009, which made the company correct deceptive advertisements that led customers to believe Yasmin and Yaz could be used to treat other conditions, like acne, which were not approved by the FDA.
The Office of the Attorney General believes Kentucky is the only state to take additional legal action to enforce the initial judgment.
One of the critical missions of the Office of the Attorney General is to enforce Kentucky’s Consumer Protection Act, which protects families from unfair, false, misleading or deceptive acts or practices in trade or commerce.
In July, Beshear announced he settled a 12-year-old lawsuit against Marathon Petroleum Company and Speedway LLC over alleged gasoline price gouging for $22,500,000.
To date, settlements and civil litigation from Beshear’s consumer protection efforts have resulted in more than $35 million to the Commonwealth’s general fund. These actions have yielded restitution that could exceed more than $97 million, representing amounts paid to consumers or amounts Kentuckians are eligible to receive, and the value of credits, student loan debt relief and warranty extensions. Kentuckians who need to file a business or consumer complaint should visit ag.ky.gov.
In other efforts to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for putting profits ahead of the health of Kentucky families, Beshear has taken legal action against:
In each case, Beshear is demanding the companies pay state civil penalties and correct their conduct.
Beshear has also opened an investigation into pharmacy benefit managers, who control the prescription drug market for several state programs, over allegation they overcharged the state for prescription drugs and discriminated against local pharmacies.
Wednesday, Beshear also announced his office has recovered $22.7 million in state and federal Medicaid dollars after reaching an agreement with a pharmaceutical distributor over its improper marketing and promotion of the drug Suboxone.