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Bayer Pharmaceuticals Discriminates Against Women in its Products and Workplace

Recently the popular contraceptive Yaz has received a lot of media attention due to the thousands of lawsuits filed against Bayer, the drug’s manufacturer. Many of these women began taking Yaz based on advertisements claiming that Yaz was not only an effective form of birth control, but it was also effective at treating the common symptoms of PMS including acne, bloating, and irritability. Unfortunately, these ads also featured loud music and distracting images so that consumers had a difficult time focusing on the most important part of the commercial- the warnings.

Shortly after the release of these commercials, the FDA required Bayer (Yaz’s manufacturers) to correct the information in the ads by: 1) stating that Yaz is only approved for a rare and serious form of PMS called PMDD, and that the drug is not approved for treatment of common PMS and 2) focusing more on the very real risks and side effects associated with the use of Yaz.

As it turns out, those ad corrections weren’t enough to properly warn women of the dangers of the drug. Independent studies (studies NOT conducted by Bayer) revealed that while all contraceptives carry a risk of developing blood clots in their users, Yaz users have a 2-3% higher chance of developing serious and life-threatening blood clots than users of other brands of birth control. These serious types of blood clots- called deep vein thrombosis– are large clots which develop in the leg, causing serious debilitating  pain. As if that’s not bad enough, these clots can break free from their location in the leg and move through the bloodstream straight into the victim’s heart causing a pulmonary embolism. The near 10,000 women who are currently suing Bayer claim that the company not only knew of the serious risks associated with the drug, but intentionally undersold those risks in an attempt to sell more Yaz and bring in more profit. In response to these allegations, Bayer cites its own studies which reveal no higher risk with Yaz than with any other birth control. Interesting.

Another law suit filed by multiple women against Bayer has strangely received far less media attention. It seems that Bayer’s disregard for women’s health doesn’t stop at producing and distributing a drug that has been linked to serious blood clots, blindness, and even death in women, but includes a company-wide policy of discrimination against women. Following the rash of Yaz lawsuits, the company laid off a large portion of its Women’s Healthcare Division. The lawsuit filed by both former and current female employees of Bayer claims that the company wrongfully terminated multiple women following child birth and maternity leave, as well as refusing to promote women are married with children.

The discrimination complaint alleges that Bayer published an article in which they claim that “the fairer sex” is more prone to “mood swings,” “indecision,” and “backstabbing.” The company determined that men are “easier to deal with” and “much less likely to have a hidden agenda, suffer mood swings or get involved in office politics.” As such, a Bayer Vice-President openly announced that the company would “never hire another woman over 40… they’re all crazy.” Taking this ban on women a step further, another Bayer executive announced that he “needed to stop hiring women of reproductive age.”

In support of their argument, the women who filed cited explicit statements by Bayer’s Human Resources department that they consider “having young children as a liability when considering advancement opportunities.” The plaintiff’s further cite the fact that the women who do hold high management positions within the company are unmarried and have no children. Of further concern, the complaint alleges that the unmarried and childless women in management have contributed to the discrimination of those women who chose to have a family, by telling any women who had the courage to complain about the company’s discriminatory policies, “That’s just the way it is, deal with it.” One of the female defendants in the complaint told one of the female plaintiffs that the Women’s Healthcare Division was a “politically charged unit.”

One would think that since Bayer seems to have such a prejudice against women who chose to get married, have children, and create a balance between family and work life, they would be a lot more interested in creating a safe and effective contraceptive. This would ensure not only that women who choose to take birth control would be safe from deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolisms, blindness, and cardiac arrest, but also that Bayer could continue to have a healthy pool of unmarried and childless women to promote. (833) 606-DRUG [3784].