OKLAHOMA CITY – Yaz was the top-selling birth control pill in 2008 and 2009.
Sales have taken a hit following thousands of lawsuits filed on behalf of women who allege serious and sometimes deadly health complications from taking the popular medication.
Civil litigation documents potential side effects ranging from gall bladder trouble, to stroke, to death.
According to an annual earnings reoprt from Bayer, the company which manufactures Yaz, about 3,000 Yaz cases have settled for approximately $750,000.
“In 2004 the evidence starting coming out that women that were on Yaz were experiencing stroke and clots at a much, much higher rate than you would expect in the general population,” civil attorney Noble McIntyre said.
The average settlement is about $200,000.
Brandy Armantrout, 32, started taking Yaz back in 2007.
Last December she started to feel tingling in her left arm.
She raced to the hospital to be treated for a severe case of deep vein thrombosis, blood clots in her arm.
“I had no pulse at my wrist,” Armantrout said. “The doctor found it faintly at my elbow and forearm. They took me to a room and started hooking me up to IVs. It was excruciating. I was feeling my hand dying. I was watching it turn black.”
Surgeons amputated Armantrout’s arm above the elbow.
The amputation was devastating for Brandy, her husband Mikeal and their 4-year-old daughter, Maxine.
Several days after the amputation, Brandy Armantrout was told that she has no medical insurance coverage for prosthetics.
Armantrout is on Medicaid and Sooner Care will only pay for prosthetics for Oklahomans younger than 21 years old.
“When I realized that this is what I was left with, there’s really no other option,” she said.
“It really just made me lose hope.”
World renown prosthetic specialists at Scott Sabolich have agreed to help Brandy Armantrout get started.
They are helping her manage debilitating phantom pain in her stump.
A prosthesis will cost Armantrout between $10,000 and $80,000.
There is a state agency which can sometimes help Oklahomans like Brandy who plan to enter the work force, Vocation Rehabilitation Services.
The funding for Vocation Rehabilitation has been significantly reduced by the recent fiscal crisis.
“V.R. is done paying for prosthetics until the state recovers,” Scott Sabolich said. “It’s sad but the state’s got to balance its budgets. That’s where they’re cutting.”
Vocational Rehabilitation is an employment program, which helped about 3,100 Oklahomans go to work in 2012.
Vocation Rehabilitation Services provided this statement about Brandy Armantrout’s ability to get help from their state agency:
“Her employment plan with Vocational Rehabilitation includes the purchase of a prosthetic arm that would help Brandy reach her employment goal. Brandy and her Vocational Rehabilitation counselor are researching funding options and various types of prosthetics to find one that would function effectively for her with the kind of work that she plans to do.”
Brandy Armantrout and her family are moving ahead with a civil lawsuit against Bayer, the maker of Yaz.
Bayer responded with the following statement:
“On April 10, 2012, in agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced that it had updated the labels for its drospirenone-containing combination oral contraceptives (COCs) in the United States.”