Letter 20: Felicity, Kathrin, and Ceceline
Fabian Sabo’s film focuses a lot on Felicity Rohner, a young woman who is
bringing the first Yasmin lawsuit against Bayer in Germany. Although Yasmin is
suspected of having at least 478 victims in Germany, there are no class action
suits as we have in the U.S. Her trial began in December 2015 and continues today.
In 2008, Felicity was 24 years old, engaged, and close to graduation from vet school. She was healthy, did not smoke, and was never overweight. Her doctor told her that Yasmin had some benefits: clearer skin, healthier hair, would prevent weight gain (the inventor disagreed and as you know, the exact opposite happened to you, Annie), and would not cause water retention. With her sample package of Yasmin pills, she received goodies - a brush and mirror. Annie, I know you did not receive such trinkets. Since Germany does not permit TV drug advertisements, I speculate that the company instead markets their pills through cheap gifts as part of the pitch to patients. In fact, your dad and I have learned that the U.S. and New Zealand are the only countries that permit media advertising.
All was well with Felicity for a while, but in July 2009, when she climbed up 3 steps to her toilet, she suddenly became dizzy and collapsed. Paramedics were unable to stabilize her. Although she was clinically dead, doctors, finding blood clots in both lungs, were able to operate, restart her heart, and remove the blood clots. They put her into an artificial coma, where she hovered between life and death.
Miraculously, Felicity survived. She had to learn to walk again. Therapists worked with her every day. There were other consequences to her quality of life. Her fiancé left her, unable to bear all of the medical routine, and she had to forego her dream of becoming a vet since she lacked the physical strength for that occupation. She is now a journalist. Panic attacks plague her, especially when she is in a space with no windows, since she feels as if death is surrounding her. Felicity feels that mentally and physically she is a different person. She is pursuing her suit against Bayer with the dream that Yasmin and other drospirenone-based hormonal birth control will be removed from the market.
Kathrin Weigele is another young German woman who suffered a pulmonary embolism and is considering a lawsuit. She had to learn to breathe again. Her lung function is so limited that doctors give her only a 5% chance of surviving for 5 years. She has attended Bayer Board meetings with Felicity, but both women were pretty much ignored.
In Switzerland, Sabo interviewed a mother whose daughter no longer has a voice. In 2008, 16-year-old Cecilene was put on Yasmin. Four weeks later, she collapsed from cardiac arrest. Revived by paramedics, doctors discovered severe blood clots in both lungs. After being in a coma for several weeks, she now suffers from incurable spastic paralysis. She cannot speak, eat independently, or run. She still possesses mental capabilities, but she requires 24/7 supervision.
These are a few of the tragic stories in the documentary. Fabian Sabo is a very compassionate man who possesses a strong desire to help others. He also includes the horrible suffering family members of victims have to endure. I cannot make sense of any of these unnecessary losses.