Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed June 20, 2016
Although highly effective when used correctly, oral contraceptives require women to exercise daily diligence to ensure they remain on the proper pill-taking regimen. In 2002, a new product called NuvaRing was introduced into the U.S. market by Organon BioSciences with the promise of making birth control more convenient.
NuvaRing is a flexible plastic ring that is inserted vaginally and remains in place for three weeks. After one week, during which time menstruation occurs, a new ring is placed. Similar to the mechanism of oral contraceptives, the ring releases artificial hormones into the user's body that are designed to prevent pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation. The two specific synthetic hormones released by NuvaRing are estonogestrel, an artificial progestin, and ethinyl estradiol, an artificial estrogen.
Heart Attack and Stroke Risks Associated With NuvaRing
Unfortunately, the advantages of NuvaRing may not be worth the potential hazards. The most serious health complication linked to NuvaRing use is an increased risk for blood clotting, which can produce potentially deadly consequences, including blockage of lung arteries (pulmonary embolism), and death of heart tissue (myocardial infarction) and brain cells (thrombotic stroke) due to restricted or total loss of blood flow.
In 2012, the British Medical Journal reported vaginal ring users were 6.5 times more likely to develop venous blood clots than non-users. Later that year, using the same data collected by the Danish researchers, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that users of vaginal rings were found to be at significantly heightened risk of myocardial infarction and thrombotic stroke than non-users.
NuvaRing Lawsuits in Multi-District Litigation
The injuries attributed to NuvaRing use have sparked hundreds of product liability lawsuits against its manufacturer, Merck & Co. The number of NuvaRing lawsuits has been steadily rising in the U.S. for a number of years. In 2008, 575 federal NuvaRing lawsuits were consolidated into multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court -Eastern District of Missouri. Since then, the number of NuvaRing lawsuits had grown to more than a thousand.
The plaintiffs filing NuvaRing lawsuits contend the product was inadequately tested and is unreasonably dangerous for its intended use. The plaintiffs also argue that the manufacturers knew about the blood clotting risks, but failed to recall the product or provide adequate warnings.
All product manufacturers have a duty to ensure that products entering the market are as safe as reasonably possible. When a product carries known and unavoidable risks the manufacturer must provide adequate warning to consumers. However, even when a manufacturer does everything right, the manufacturer is still held liable if a product is ultimately found to be defective, or "unreasonably dangerous." This is called strict liability.
NuvaRing Medical Malpractice Litigation
Unlike a drug manufacturer, a doctor may only be held liable if he or she is found to be negligent. In other words, if the doctor fails to exercise the degree of skill and knowledge reasonably expected, he or she may be held liable for medical malpractice. A doctor could potentially be deemed negligent for prescribing NuvaRing if the doctor failed to first adequately explain its risks. In addition, a physician may also be liable for prescribing NuvaRing if the the patient exhibited certain risk factors, including hypertension, liver disease, and smoking.
Pursuing a NuvaRing Case
Injured persons interested in pursuing a NuvaRing lawsuit should consult with an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about both medical negligence and NuvaRing litigation for a case evaluation. Patients shouldn't delay in seeking legal advice because a law called the statute of limitations places time restrictions on filing products cases against manufacturers.
Medical malpractice actions, on the other hand, must be brought within a certain period of time as well. The time limits vary from state-to-state. In California, for example, a one-year statute of limitations begins to run from the moment a person even suspects the possibility of medical negligence.
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