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5 Women's Health Products that Could Be Dangerous

Every health product comes with side effects. But some are worse than others. Guest author Michael Acosta, a lawyer specializing in pharmaceutical litigation, outlines 5 products that can be dangerous to your health.

By
QDT Editor
December 19, 2013

Every time we take medication, we accept the risks associated with that product. But do you know all the facts about the products you use? What do you do if you suffer side effects that aren’t on the warning label?

Here are 5 health products that have garnered a lot of bad press lately and should be on your radar:

  1. Yaz

Yaz is a birth control pill made by Bayer. It has been approved to treat acne in women over 14, provide folate supplementation, treat PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), and prevent pregnancy with 99% effectiveness when taken as directed. 

Bayer has faced censure for making claims in advertisements that Yaz and sister product Yasmin treat conditions for which they are not approved. Some lawsuits have been filed alleging that Yaz and Yasmin increase the risk of blood clots and strokes. The allegations have been denied by Bayer, but according to independent studies, Yaz and Yasmin do carry a higher risk of certain side effects.

  1. Vaginal Mesh

Transvaginal mesh was marketed as a treatment for pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Affecting around 50% of women who have given birth, POP is a common condition in which the pelvic muscles weaken, allowing organs to shift. POP can cause pain in the vaginal area, abdominal pressure, and stress incontinence. Transvaginal mesh is similar to the type of mesh used in hernia repair and is inserted vaginally to keep organs in place.

The FDA issued a statement in 2008 that a slight risk for injury existed with the use of transvaginal mesh. There have been reports of cases where the mesh caused significant pain and infection because it was embedding itself into the organs. Some women required additional surgeries to repair the damage.

  1. NuvaRing

NuvaRing is a form of birth control that only needs to be administered once a month. The flexible plastic ring is inserted vaginally for three weeks at a time and releases low doses of estradiol, ethinyl estradiol, and etonogestrel.

Manufactured by Merck & Co., NuvaRing was first marketed in the U.S. in July 2002. Since then, there have been around 300 reports of serious health problems related to the product, including blood clots, strokes, heart attacks (myocardial infraction), and pulmonary emboli.

  1. Lipitor

Lipitor — commonly referred to as a statin — is a drug manufactured by Pfizer to treat high cholesterol.

When Lipitor was approved by the FDA in 1996, there were few known side effects. However, by 2009, increased risk of muscular damage prompted the FDA to issue new prescribing guidelines. In 2011, additional warnings of possible liver damage were placed on Lipitor, and in 2012, a 12-year study found that there was a significantly increased risk of women developing Type 2 Diabetes when using Lipitor.

See also: Do Statin Drugs Cause Diabetes?

 

  1. Mirena

Mirena is the only FDA-approved hormonal intrauterine device. Inserted into the uterus, it provides contraception for up to 5 years. Mirena works by releasing a kind of progestin, which thickens the cervical mucus, preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg. It also partially suppresses ovulation and thins the lining of the uterus.

Around 1% of Mirena users report side effects that could lead to serious problems if left untreated. These include diabetes, emotional disturbances, visual disruptions, heart valve problems, liver problems, sexually transmitted infections, ovarian cysts, and uterine perforation.

What to Do if You Take Any of These Medications

If you take or are considering taking any of these medications, it’s important to proactively educate yourself on possible side effects. Here’s how:

  • Do your research. Conduct your own research to become educated about any drugs you are considering or currently using. While the internet provides great information, be sure to use reliable resources, such as the FDA website.

  • Pay special attention to black box warnings. Of all the warnings issued by the FDA, a black box warning is the most serious. You may choose to take a medication despite a black box warning if the benefits of the medication outweigh the risk of side effects, or if the dangerous side effects are extremely rare.

  • Consult your doctor. You should always consult your physician about your treatment options. If you experience side effects, you should discuss them with your doctor and evaluate alternatives.

  • Contact a lawyer. If you’ve already spoken with your doctor about side effects you’re experiencing and your physician has determined your medication or procedure was the cause, it’s time to contact an attorney. A lawyer will conduct a proper review of your medical records and help you determine what your next steps should be. It’s important to remember that if you decide to file a lawsuit, this type of litigation typically takes several years to resolve.

While it’s always better to avoid health problems from drug side effects in the first place, that isn’t always possible. That’s why your doctor is your first line of defense when it comes to choosing the best medication for you, and you should always research and evaluate your options independently.

***

Michael Acosta is a partner at Acosta & Williams LLC. As an attorney, he specializes in the areas of pharmaceutical litigation, personal injury, premises liability, auto and truck accidents, toxic torts, property and air contamination, and wrongful death. He is licensed to practice in the courts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Connect with Michael on Twitter and Google+.

Pink ribbon image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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