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NuvaRing: Lawsuits and Health Risks

Oral contraceptives can be highly effective when taken correctly. Of course, any woman who takes birth control pills knows they must be vigilant in taking their medicine. If they forget a day or two, they could end up pregnant.

This is why many women got excited when Organon released the NuvaRing in 2002. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the NuvaRing medical device that year. In 2021, Merck completed a spinoff of Organon, becoming liable for NuvaRing injuries. As part of the spinoff agreement, Merck is now a partial distributor of NuvaRing products.

NuvaRing is a flexible plastic ring that you insert into your vagina. It stays there for three weeks. After your menstrual cycle is over, you insert a new one. NuvaRing releases synthetic hormones into your body.

These hormones (etonogestrel and ethinyl estradiol) help prevent pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation. Etonogestrel is a synthetic progestin, and ethinyl estradiol is a synthetic estrogen.

As popular as the NuvaRing was, it carried severe side effects. One of the most serious side effects is the increased risk of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Here, we'll briefly describe NuvaRing's side effects. We'll also discuss the various NuvaRing lawsuits.

NuvaRing and Increased Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

Experts have found that the advantages of NuvaRing may not outweigh the potential health hazards. The most severe health complication patients with NuvaRing experience is an increased risk for blood clotting. This can be deadly.

These dangerous health hazards include:

In 2012, a study in the British Medical Journal reported that vaginal ring users had a 6.5 times higher risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (venous blood clots) than non-users.

Later that year, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that NuvaRing contraceptive insert users were at a significantly heightened risk of myocardial infarction and thrombotic stroke.

NuvaRing Lawsuits in Multi-District Litigation

The injuries from the birth control device NuvaRing sparked hundreds of product liability lawsuits. Plaintiffs filed suit against Merck, the current manufacturer of NuvaRing.

The number of NuvaRing lawsuits has steadily risen in the U.S. By 2008, the federal courts had consolidated 575 NuvaRing lawsuits into multidistrict litigation (MDL). The courts assigned the MDL to the District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Since then, NuvaRing lawsuits have grown to over a thousand.

The plaintiffs filing NuvaRing lawsuits argue that Merck didn't adequately test the hormonal contraceptive before placing it on the market. The plaintiffs also argued that Merck knew about the blood clotting risks but failed to recall the product or provide adequate warnings.

Status of NuvaRing Birth Control Lawsuits

The Missouri MDL started in 2008. By 2014, Merck had settled with 95% of the MDL plaintiffs. The total settlement was $100 million. Between 2015 and September 2021, Merck settled or went to trial for the remaining cases. The MDL formally closed in September 2021.

When the MDL closed, cases were still pending in the state courts. Most of these cases alleged that the third-generation birth control devices released hormones into the bloodstream, creating the risk of blood clots.

These hormones — desogestrel and ethinylestradiol — cause patients' blood to thicken, leading to various health risks. Plaintiffs argued Merck knew about these risks and failed to warn the public. By January 2024, Merck had resolved most, if not all, of these cases.

Many fewer plaintiffs sued the pharmaceutical company after 2013. This is because Merck changed the warnings on its birth control products in 2013. Most cases against Merck claimed that the company failed to warn consumers about NuvaRing's health risks. Once the company updated its warnings, patients could no longer claim Merck failed to warn about the risk of blood clots.

Is NuvaRing Still Available?

NuvaRing is still on the market. Despite thousands of lawsuits, neither the FDA nor Merck recalled the device. But, in 2013, Merck added a black box warning to NuvaRing's packing on the risk of blood clots.

Doctors who prescribe the NuvaRing to their patients are more careful when explaining the risks of this device. Patients today also have more options when it comes to contraceptives.

Pursuing a NuvaRing Case

People who suffer an injury after using the NuvaRing contraceptive device have two options. They can sue Merck under product liability, or they can sue their doctor for medical malpractice. Both options require that you prove you suffered an injury. It's not enough that you used NuvaRing. You must show that the device directly caused your injuries.

In a product liability case, plaintiffs must show that the manufacturer placed a dangerous device on the market without warning of its risks. They can also argue that the company intentionally withheld information about the device's risks.

Most product liability lawsuits involve the following allegations:

  • Failure to warn
  • Breach of warranty
  • Negligence
  • Consumer fraud
  • Common law fraud

Your product liability attorney may argue more than one of these things. It depends on the facts of your case.

In a medical malpractice case, you must prove that your health care provider was negligent or acted recklessly. For example, you may be able to prove that your doctor didn't provide you with information about NuvaRing's risks and warnings. Or you could show that your doctor didn't check to see if you were taking medications that may negatively interact with NuvaRing.

Compensation You May Receive in a Successful Lawsuit

When your attorney files your lawsuit, they will demand that you get specific compensation. The types and amount of damages you receive depend on two things. First, the nature and extent of your injuries will help determine your damages. Second, the defendant's behavior will significantly affect your compensation.

Regardless of the type of lawsuit you file, you can demand the following types of damages:

  • Medical bills and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages and lost future income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Punitive damages

If your loved one dies as a result of using the NuvaRing device, you may have the option of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The damages available in a wrongful death case include funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, and loss of companionship.

A Product Liability Lawyer Can Help

NuvaRing lawsuits can be complex. One of the hardest things about your case is proving that the contraceptive device caused your injuries. This is why contacting an experienced product liability attorney is a good idea.

Your personal injury lawyer will review your case and help determine if you have a valid legal claim. They'll also hire experts to help prove your case. Most law firms offer new clients a free case evaluation.

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