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Bayer Wants Private Information About YAZ Users

The Yasmin and YAZ litigation continue to heat up in the Pennsylvania market, with over 160 cases filed. On Friday, the parties argued to Judge Sandra Mazer Moss about the full scope of questionnaires (often called “Plaintiff Fact Sheets”) that individual plaintiffs would be required to answer. Bayer is clearly overreaching, here.

Bayer wants to know the sum total of each plaintiff’s contraceptive history, even extending beyond hormonal birth control methods. This is coming from a company that spends untold millions advertising its product directly to consumers in an effort to get them to go on their brand of “the Pill.” They cannot, however, give a good reason for needing to know whether an individual plaintiff used condoms or the rhythm method when she was 25. Furthermore, that request for information, much like the number of sexual partners, is so private and so beyond the scope of this litigation, that the very request for it is offensive. Many young women, for example, might be dissuaded from this litigation if doing so will mean that others, including their parents, might find out too many details about their sexual history (remember—YAZ was marketed to women for the prevention of acne, sexual activity notwithstanding). Even Judge Moss recognized that Bayer was likely asking for more than they were entitled to, when she sarcastically commented that plaintiffs could tell Bayer about the number of sexual partners they had, “then we could put out a brochure and everyone will know.”

Certainly, Bayer is entitled to know about other oral contraceptive use, because one component of the allegations is that YAZ, Yasmin and Ocella are more dangerous than other birth control pills on the market. This other information, however, is clearly extraneous and designed to harass.

Judge Moss recommended that the parties work on a compromise for the questionnaires. If they cannot reach an agreement, she will intervene. She understands that this is the beginning step for a long road in this mass tort—the best way to operate is to allow the parties to learn to play nice with each other.