Mason woman's says birth control pill lead to gall bladder malfunction, suicide attempts

By Lawrence Smith | Jun 25, 2010

POINT PLEASANT -- A Mason County woman is suing the maker of a birth control pill alleging the effects of taking it took a toll on her physical and mental health.

Megan M. Stewart filed suit against the Bayer Corporation in Mason Circuit Court. In her 11-count complaint filed on May 28, Stewart, 21, alleges side effects from an oral contraceptive she took during a two-year period not only caused her gall bladder to fail, but also led her to attempt suicide.

According to her suit, Stewart, a Point Pleasant resident, was prescribed YAZ by her gynecologist in September 2007 to "treat symptoms of menstrual cramps." Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a year earlier as a combination oral contraceptive, the suit alleges Bayer marketed YAZ to also treat premenstrual dysphonic disorder, premenstrual syndrome and moderate acne.

YAZ, according to its Web site, is Bayer's brand name for the drug drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol. It is produced in the U.S. by Bayer's subsidiary Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Wayne, N.J.

In her suit, Stewart says she continued to take YAZ through June 2008 when she began feeling pain in her midsection. She learned her gallbladder was not functioning properly, and it was removed two months later.

After a three to four month period where she stopped taking it, Stewart says she resumed treatment with YAZ in April 2009. However, she again stopped taking it in April 2009 after she "began feeling queasy."

Once she began suffering from severe menstrual cramps, Stewart again resumed taking YAZ in November. Stewart alleges that "[w]ithin days" of resuming treatment, she "began suffering severe depression and suicidal thoughts" which led her to twice attempt suicide.

In her suit, Stewart accuses Bayer of, among other things, negligence, product liability, negligent misrepresentation, breach of express warranty, fraud and violation of the state Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. She alleges Bayer "knew or should have known that YAZ posed a serious risk of bodily harm to consumers" and had a duty to warn consumers of "reasonable, dangerous side effects including ... gallbladder disease, depression, and suicidal thoughts."

In addition to Bayer and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Stewart's suit names Bayer HealthCare AG, Bayer HealthCare LLC, Bayer HealthCare Corporation, Berlex, Inc and Berlex Laboratories Inc. as co-defendants. According to Bayer's Web site, Bayer HealthCare AG, based in Bayerwerk, Germany, is Bayer's subgroup that oversees product development for human and animal health.

Based in Tarrytown, N.Y., Bayer HealthCare LLC is Bayer HealthCare AG's American subsidiary. It oversees Bayer Pharmaceuticals Corp in West Haven Conn., and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals.

Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals is the new name given to Berlex after Bayer acquired it in 2006.

Stewart seeks unspecified damages, court costs and attorneys fees. She is represented by Tonya R. Hunt with the Point Pleasant law firm of Handley and Hunt.

The case is assigned to Judge David W. Nibert.

Mason Circuit Court case number 10-C-55

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