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Court throws out Yasmin claim against Beyer

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Court throws out Yasmin claim against Beyer
Céline Pfleger before and after the embolism. Photo: RTS
10:36 CET+01:00
Switzerland's highest court has thrown out a suit against Bayer by a young Swiss woman who claimed to have suffered side effects from using the German drug maker's contraceptive pill Yasmin.

Céline Pfleger, 22, was paralyzed after suffering from a pulmonary embolism a few weeks after taking the pill, leaving her with medical bills of more than 600,000 francs ($697,000), according to earlier media reports.

She was backed by her Lucerne-based insurer, CSS, in her claim that incomplete information was provided with the Yasmin product for patients about the risk of an embolism being twice as elevated as for other contraceptive pills.

This information was provided with a notice for health professionals, however.

In a decision made public on Wednesday, the federal court upheld the ruling of a lower Zurich court in determining that Beyer was not responsible in this case, noting that it was up to the patient’s doctor to determine the risks of such prescription drugs, the ATS news agency reported.

The supreme court said as a rule patients do not have themselves the necessary qualifications to appreciate their risks of such drugs.

In such cases, it is incumbent on the patient’s doctor to evaluate the benefits and the risks of different products on the market with regards to their use and to discuss this with the patient, the ruling said.

For this reason, the fact Beyer provided information to professionals about the embolism risk and not directly to patients was not open to criticism, the court said.

The judgment was blasted by CSS, one of Switzerland’s biggest health insurers, which said in a statement that it diminished the obligation of the drug company to sufficiently inform patients of its products’ risks and secondary effects.

Pfleger and her family had sought damages of more than 5.3 million francs against Beyer, plus 400,000 francs in moral liability.

The company said in March 2014 that it had paid out $1.7 billion to settle 8,250 legal claims in the US that Yasmin caused blood clots.  

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