Letter 5: From Farzana
As I sit and read your story on a cold February morning, I feel a rush of emotions
come over me. On the one hand, it is heartwarming to know that you were so
loved by everyone who knew you and on the other hand it angers me to know that
your life meant so little to those who made these drospirenone-containing
contraceptive pills and those who prescribed them to you! No one has been
properly held responsible for your death to this day, and that makes me very
upset. I cannot imagine what your family had to go through just to find out the
cause of your death so that they could finally get some closure. Everyone was out to save themselves while your family struggled to know why their beloved sister and daughter had an untimely death due to something that was otherwise, for the most part, considered harmless.
Annie, after reading your story I asked a lot of my family and friends if they were ever on one of Bayer’s oral contraceptive pills, such as Yazmin, Yaz, Beyaz, Safyral, or a generic version of these. To my surprise, a lot of them, including my mom, have used their pills. I was lucky enough to not have been prescribed Bayer’s birth control pills; luck being the operative word here. This is because I could have easily gone to a doctor who prescribed a drospirenone-containing birth control pill and I wouldn’t have been the wiser! I know now that these birth control pills have been the cause of many deaths including yours!
My heart goes out to your family who is suffering the loss of your beautiful soul, but Annie, your story might have potentially saved a lot more young lives from being lost to something so preventable. Your story has inspired me to be a part of the voices that challenge the FDA to better regulate their drug trials and conduct their own independent research, instead of relying mostly on the data from pharmaceutical companies. It is unfortunate that to this day, the FDA has not taken drospirenone-containing oral contraceptives off the market despite knowing about its health risks. Even though they have now put a label to warn consumers about the risks, I still feel that it is a drug that is unnecessarily on the market as the risks are not worth the benefits, especially when there are other, comparatively safer birth control pills out there.
I want to end this letter by saying that because of you, I am now more proactive in making decisions regarding my health and I don’t just rely on the expertise of my healthcare provider. I hope to inspire others to do the same by sharing your story with them. Thank you, Annie.
Brunel University MSc Public Health, Class of 2012