EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — (Mealey’s) Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. will pay $24 million to resolve claims of plaintiffs who allege that they developed gallbladder disease or underwent gallbladder surgery as a result of using Yasmin or Yaz drospirenone-containing birth control pills, according to a March 15 order and settlement agreement filed in a federal multidistrict litigation court (In Re: Yasmin and Yaz [Drospirenone] Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2100, No. 3:09-md-2100, S.D. Ill.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36001).
(Order, settlement agreement available. Document #28-130321-012R.)
According to the order and agreement filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the Gallbladder Resolution Program will be capped at $24 million. Tier 1 patients who underwent cholecystectomies (gallbladder removal surgery) will receive $2,000 and Tier 2 patients who developed gallbladder symptoms but didn’t require surgery will receive $2,000.
Patients participating in the settlement must submit claim forms and a court-appointed special master, Stephen Saltzburg of the George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C., will make award determinations that are final and non-appealable. Patients must inform Bayer if any third-party payers may have liens against award and any amounts will be withheld pending resolution of liens.
In addition, attorney fees must be paid out of awards.
Federal And State Cases Included
BrownGreer PLC in Richmond, Va., was appointed claims administrator.
The settlement program will include claims in the MDL and in state courts in California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where Yasmin/Yaz cases are centralized.
The agreement does not settle claims alleging venous or arterial thromboembolisms (blood clots). Plaintiffs who claim both gallbladder and blood clot injuries can receive gallbladder-only settlements without affecting their blood clot claims.
In its 2012 annual report, Bayer told stockholders that as of Feb. 12, it has settled about 4,800 blood clot claims for about $1 billion.
All gallbladder plaintiffs are automatically enrolled in the settlement. Those wishing to opt out must do so by April 29.
New gallbladder cases must be served by March 25.
Bayer may walk away from the settlement if less than 90 percent of gallbladder plaintiffs participate. Bayer denies any liability or wrongdoing.
Bayer also has the right to audit claims “at any time from time to time.”
Number Of Cases Unknown
The number of plaintiffs claiming gallbladder injury is unknown. In its 2012 annual report, Bayer said that as of Feb. 12, there were about 13,600 claimants who have not settled.
The order approving the settlement and deadlines was signed by Chief Judge David R. Herndon.
Negotiating plaintiffs’ counsel are represented by Roger C. Denton of Schlichter, Bogard & Denton in St. Louis; Michael S. Burg of Burg, Simpson, Eldredge, Hersh & Jardine in Englewood, Colo.; Michael A. London of Douglas & London in New York; Richard D. Meadow of the Lanier Law Firm in New York; Daniel S. Robinson of Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro David in Newport Beach, Calif.; and Michael M. Weinkowitz of Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman in Philadelphia.
Bayer represented in the settlement by Jeff Fields and Douglas Beck of Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City, Mo.
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