NuvaRing was originally published by Organon, which has since partnered with Merck & Co. It is the original birth control ring that was released worldwide. However, many NuvaRing users have claimed that the devices caused serious side effects such as blood clots and other life-threatening health problems. Some users have died causing their families to file NuvaRing lawsuits against Merck & Co. as well.
In fact, scientific research has shown that NuvaRing users are at a higher risk of blood clotting injuries and a higher risk of many side effects than stated on the warning label, including stroke, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and death. Over 1,983 legal disputes have been combined into one multi-district lawsuit, and 215 state legal disputes have been combined into one multiple-district law in New Jersey. There are still 89 cases pending by 2019.
NuvaRing is a contraceptive vaginal ring that is inserted into the vagina. Here it is used to prevent pregnancy by releasing a low dose of etonogestrel (a progestogen hormone) and an estrogen over a three-week cycle.
While many users have reported satisfactory use of NuvaRing, further research has found that the risk of dangerous complications is higher than indicated on the warning labels. In addition, healthy women who used NuvaRing experienced serious health problems, with venous thromboembolic events such as blood clots in the legs and lungs being the most common.
Studies of NuvaRing’s Health Risks
An eight-year study was conducted from 2001 to 2007, working with over 800,000 hormonal contraceptive users to find evidence of an increased risk of blood clots. The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) also classified the risk of embolism as a significant safety risk prior to the approval of NuvaRing, but initially did not publish the warning.
As of October 2013, the FDA asked NuvaRing to post warnings about the increased risk of embolism and cardiovascular problems on the warning label. At this point in time, several other studies had been published reporting the increased likelihood of such dangerous side effects with NuvaRing compared to other hormone contraceptives, patches, and birth control pills.
The NuvaRing allegations against Merck & Co.
Many NuvaRing users claim that Merck & Co. was either negligent or knowingly fraudulent, stating that the manufacturer should have known about the risk and done more to warn users about it. Starting in 2007, more and more women and families were reporting serious medical complications such as embolism, clotting problems and more, even though they were healthy women before using NuvaRing.
In total, there have been more than 2,100 NuvaRing lawsuits against Merck & Co, accusing the manufacturer of not testing the effects of etonogestrel, the hormones in NuvaRing that have since been considered the main risk factor. In addition, the lawsuits determined that the safety information published with NuvaRing was based solely on oral use.
NuvaRing Health Risks
While the NuvaRing labels came with health warnings, they primarily emphasized what users considered to be minor side effects like breast tenderness and nausea. However, many users continued to suffer from blood clots, strokes and heart attacks, high blood pressure, blood disorders, and breast and reproductive organ cancer.
The NuvaRing lawsuits gained more attention after the death of 43-year-old Nebraskan Ann Tompkins. After Tompkins died of pulmonary embolism from a blood clot in her lungs just five months after starting NuvaRing, her estate filed a lawsuit in 2010. Ericka Langhart, a 24-year-old woman, also died of four massive heart attacks, a pulmonary embolism. Her doctors confirmed they believed NuvaRing was the cause, and in 2011 her parents filed another lawsuit against Merck.
Although the FDA published large-scale studies in 2011 on the increased risk of blood clots associated with NuvaRing and the high profile of lawsuits against Merck & Co., NuvaRing has not been recalled.
Settling NuvaRing Litigation
In 2014, Merck & Co. offered a $ 100 million settlement to all cases, which was to be divided among approximately 3,800 people, including some cases whose claims had not yet been brought to court. Those wishing to register for the settlement had to be in a NuvaRing-induced breach prior to February 7, 2014 and submit a registration form and claim their share before the final July 21, 2014 deadline.
The $ 100 million settlement was split between all applicants, so not all recipients received around $ 60,000, which is an equal share. Instead, the case was settled in stages so that each applicant received a share of the money based on the severity of their health problems related to NuvaRing.
However, several applicants, including the parents of Erika Langhart, the 24-year-old woman who died of complications from a pulmonary embolism, decided not to opt for the settlement.
Are Lawyers Still Taking NuvaRing Litigation?
NuvaRing cases are pending against Merck & Co., but the majority of law firms are not opening new NuvaRing lawsuits. This is due to the fact that as of 2013, NuvaRing has an updated label describing the increased risk of blood clots and other related health issues. Merck & Co.’s 2014 settlement was accepted by the majority of filers, and anyone else who had suffered from NuvaRing-related injuries prior to 2014 had officially missed the deadline if they did not meet by July 21, 2014 had decided to compare.