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FDA demands that maker of Yaz oral birth control publicly withdraw false claims

The New York Times reported yesterday that Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals has been ordered by the FDA to pay for an advertising campaign publicly withdrawing its false claims that the oral contraceptive would treat acne and premenstrual syndrome.  Yaz is the most popular oral contraceptive on the market, with 600 million dollars in sales in 2008, increased from only about 200 million dollars the year before.   The large increase in sales appeared to be a product of misleading advertising intended to market the contraceptive to 20-year olds.  Yaz carries serious risks of cardiac and  other health problems, and was being marketed to consumers in a manner that minimized the drug's risks and falsely over-stated its secondary benefits.  The FDA and oversight groups also criticized the drug's predecessor, Yasmin, for similarly misleading advertising.  A professor of pharmacy at Illinois, Chicago acknowledged that the FDA was correct in demanding corrective advertising, but pointed out that the $20 million dollars allocated to this purpose was "chump change" for big pharma.

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