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Possible settlement for plaintiffs in birth control case

A large foreign drug maker is said to have struck a deal to start settling a mountain of business litigation that centers on two of its birth control products.

Around 11,000 consumers launched lawsuits against Bayer AG, alleging that their contraceptives, known on the market as Yaz and Yasmin, caused blood clots. The plaintiffs in the cases said that these blood clots often lead to either heart attack or stroke.

Bayer began chipping away at this long line of lawsuits by apparently striking a settlement in 500 cases. The settlement has not been finalized, but those close with negotiations said that the drug maker is willing to fork over at least $110 million to settle the chunk of cases. That sum would amount to $220,000 per case.

The company said in February that is already settled 70 other cases. Bayer would not detail the terms of those settlements but said that they were willing to settle pending cases on a case-by-case basis.

The recent development was not a huge surprise. On Jan. 9, a case against Bayer held in a federal courtroom in Illinois was postponed. This was to give both sides time to work with a mediator in order to strike a settlement. With mediation proving effective in these 500 cases, it would be no surprise if the company opts for mediation in many of its other cases. This would help the company save a lot of money that would be spent on litigation within United States courtrooms.

Meanwhile, the United States Food and Drug Administration has ordered the drug maker to make warnings of blood clots more noticeable on their products. Yaz, Yasmin and similar products can put a patient at three times the average risk of developing a blood clot.

Traditionally, the sale of contraceptives has been successful for Bayer, attributing to $1.58 billion in sales during 2010 alone.

Source: Bloomberg, "Bayer said to pay $110 million in Yaz birth-control cases," Margaret Cronin Fisk and Jef Feeley, April 13, 2012

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