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Health fund seeks compensation from pill maker

The pill is a popular means of birth control Keystone

Complications attributed to the use of the Yasmin contraceptive pill have prompted a Swiss health insurance company to demand hundreds of thousands of francs from the German pharma giant, Bayer, to pay for a client’s treatment.

The claim arose after a young woman suffered a pulmonary embolism after taking the pill, leaving her severely handicapped. Her family has already launched a legal case against Bayer on their own account. Their lawyer told Swiss television on Tuesday that the CSS insurance company had now made a so-called “third party intervention” in her support.

He said CSS had so far paid out SFr600,000 ($650,000) for her treatment, and more than SFr900,000 in another case.

“It is not right that the community should pay while the Bayer company makes a profit,” he said.

Until 2010 Yasmin, a “fourth generation” pill, was the best-selling hormonal contraceptive in Switzerland. Fourth generation pills were popular because women using them did not put on as much weight as with earlier pills.

In 2009 Swissmedic, the agency that supervises therapeutical products, found that it did present a higher risk of thrombosis than second generation pills, but was safer than pills of the third generation. But it stressed that women should only use hormonal methods after consulting their doctor.

Just before Swissmedic announced its findings, a woman died of a pulmonary embolism ten months after she started taking Bayer’s Yaz contraceptive, the lower dose version of Yasmin. 

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR