What was Bayer thinking when they came out with the birth control pill Yaz?
Based on another study, this one published in the British Medical Journal, demonstrates that the key ingredient in Yaz (also in Yasmin and Ocella) causes a six times increase for the incidence of clots in users.
Why is this important? A clot can cause serious debilitating injuries and death. The incidence of stroke, cardiac events and death are real complications in consumers using birth control, such as Yaz, that includes the ingredient drospirenone.
Did Bayer have an alternative to using drospirenone.
Yes. The ingredient, levonorgestrel, demonstrates a lower incidence of venous thrombosis (blood clotting) than does drospirenone.
What could Bayer have done if they wanted to use drospirenone in Yaz, even though they knew it carried a higher incidence of dangerous blood clots? A clear and understandable disclosure would have been called for and one not buried in the fine print.
But it was not to be. Bayer’s advertising for Yaz gave the impression that Yaz was the greatest adventure of a lifetime. Successful, beautiful young women gathering in a bar, discussing the positives and rapidly going through the negatives of Yaz might seem like disclosure, but the visual images were simply overpowering.
Balloons flying through an azure sky, floating over agreen playground, streets and sidewalks. Beautiful, successful appearing people enjoying life. Again, the visuals are over powering. Add to the visuals the powerful music and lyrics with a message of “we are not going to take it anymore” and what should be the real message is lost in the balloons floating into the stratosphere.
A drug that promised sex without the risk of pregnancy; clear, acne free skin; freedom from the pain and bloating of periods; and, well, beautiful people; what young woman could resist?
So what did Bayer probably do? They took advantage of a marketing opportunity and gambled that it would not blow up in their face. They bet that any complications would not result in lawsuits or claims that would approach the profits they calculated could be made. They appealed to young women in a way that promoted success, beauty and fun.
Bayer weighed the injuries and deaths of consumers against the bottom line profits and bet they ultimately would win.