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Canada Woman's Death Likely Caused by Yasmin, Authorities Refuse to Investigate

Feb 7, 2013

A Canadian family believes health officials in British Columbia failed to their jobs on several occasions, ignoring conditions that could have been linked to the Yasmin birth control she had been prescribed, and that likely contributed to her death in December 2012.

According to a Canada Broadcasting Corp. report, the family of Rhonda Bergen is accusing the British Columbia Coroner’s Office for failing to investigate the cause of the 36-year-old woman’s death. Bergen died on Dec. 16 after twice visiting a hospital emergency room that day complaining of breathing problems.

A CT scan eventually revealed that she had developed pulmonary embolism in her lungs. Her family says that the contraceptive Yasmin is likely to blame. Bergen had been prescribed Yasmin to deal with excess hair growth caused by the male hormones she was taking to treat her bout with poly cystic ovarian syndrome.

After several weeks on Yasmin, Bergen began experiencing breathing troubles. She visited a doctor who told her that she was likely suffering from effects of the flu. She was prescribed an antibiotic drug and a chest X-ray was taken but revealed no signs of trouble. After a few days and no improvement to her condition, Bergen voluntarily visited an emergency room where doctors again said there was no sign of trouble and she was released the same day. Later that same day however, Bergen was transported via ambulance to the same emergency room. A CT scan revealed the blood clots in her lungs but treatment was already too late and the woman died in the hospital.

Following her unexplained death, the provincial coroner determined that Bergen’s death was a result of “natural causes” but that judgement didn’t fit for her family. Instead, they ordered and paid for an independent autopsy and found that Yasmin, along with Bergen’s “morbid obesity” had likely caused the blood clots to form in her lungs.

Pulmonary embolism is one of several life-threatening side effects facing women who take the contraceptives Yasmin, Yaz, or Ocella. Health authorities in both Canada and the U.S. have warned about the risk of blood clots associated with taking Yasmin and the other similar contraceptives. Still, this did not prompt authorities to consider that when deciding not to investigate the woman’s death. A spokesperson for the B.C. Coroner said the office does not investigate deaths by “natural causes” as was the case with Bergen.

Bergen’s family has decided to seek legal action against the makers of Yasmin, CBC reports, and is already out $1,200 for the cost of the private, independent autopsy.

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