Pharmacists named in Yaz wrongful death suit

Kelly Holleran Aug. 23, 2011, 2:55am


The mother of a recently deceased girl has filed suit against the manufacturer of a birth control pill, alleging her daughter died after developing a blood clot formed while taking the pill.

Dana A. Martin claims her daughter, Sophia Claire Martin, was taking the birth control pill Yaz at the time of her death on July 10, 2009.

When she began taking the pill in June 2009, Sophia Claire Martin had a condition known as an arteriovenous malformation of her right lower extremity -- an ailment that is a circulatory system defect and that affects blood flow, according to the complaint filed July 8 in St. Clair County Circuit Court. Because of her condition, Sophia Claire Martin faced an increased risk of hemorrhage, the suit states.

Despite the arteriovenous malformation, Sophia Claire Martin began taking Yaz after picking it up at defendant Moody's Pharmacy on June 23, 2009, the complaint says.

Before allowing her daughter to take the pill, Dana A. Martin claims she questioned Moody's pharmacists, defendant Seamus N. Kloos and defendant Leslie Sauzek, about the use of the drug for Sophia Claire Martin.

Both reassured Dana A. Martin about the safety of the drug, never telling her of the potential risks it posed to people with blood disorders, such as Sophia Claire Martin, according to the complaint.

Soon after Sophia Claire Martin began taking the pill, she developed a blood clot that traveled to her lungs, the suit states. Directly before her death, she experienced shortness of breath and excruciating pain and suffering that lasted until she lost consciousness, the complaint says.

Because of their daughter's death, Robert P. Martin and Dana A. Martin claim they have lost her love, affection and society and have endured grief and suffering. In addition, they incurred medical and funeral costs, according to the complaint.

Dana A. Martin names the pharmacists as defendants in her suit, saying they negligently failed to advise her of the bleeding risks associated with the birth control pill, failed to warn her that risks associated with Yaz were higher than those of other contraceptives and failed to say that risks associated with Yaz were not adequately tested.

Yaz manufacturer Bayer is also named as a defendant after it allowed Yaz to hit the market without conducting adequate studies on the new component found in the pill named drospirenone, Dana A. Martin says. Yaz is the only birth control pill to contain the progestin, drospirenone, according to the complaint.

Early studies suggest that drospirenone can increase the levels of potassium in the blood, which can lead to a condition known as hyperkalemia. In turn, hyperkalemia can cause the heart's rhythm to beat irregularly, which can slow the flow of blood though the heart and can potentially lead to blood clots, the suit states.

"Well prior to Sophia Martin's death on July 10, 2009, Bayer knew or should have known that use of YAZ created a higher risk of thrombosis than other oral contraceptives on the market, including but not limited to, second generation oral contraceptives, and that, when taken as directed, such use was unreasonably dangerous to consumers," the complaint says.

In her 11-count complaint, Dana A. Martin is seeking an unspecified judgment against the pharmacists and compensatory damages of more than $450,000 against Bayer, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

She will be represented by Judy L. Cates and David Cates of The Cates Law Firm in Swansea.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-400.

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