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Merck Offers $100 Million to Settle NuvaRing Lawsuits. Is it Enough?

The NuvaRing was supposed to revolutionize birth control.

NuvaRing is a flexible plastic ring that is placed near the cervix, where it releases a dose of synthetic hormones. After three weeks, the vaginal ring is removed. A new ring is inserted a week later. The ring is popular with women because it is convenient and easy to use.

Many women were told that NuvaRing was a safer alternative to traditional birth control pills. Oral contraceptives have been linked to dangerous blood clots and increase a woman’s risk of heart attack and stroke. However, numerous studies have found that NuvaRing may be even more likely to cause blood clots than other forms of birth control. Thousands of NuvaRing users have suffered from a specific type of blood clot called venous thrombosis or VTE.

VTE refers to a blood clot that forms in a vein. When the clot forms in the leg, it can cause severe pain and swelling. If it breaks off and moves to the lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism. If the clot moves to the heart, it can cause a heart attack. If the clot reaches the brain, it may cause a stroke. Pulmonary embolisms, heart attacks, and strokes are potentially fatal.

In October 2013, Merck updated the package label to warn that women should stop using NuvaRing if a blood clot forms.

About 3,800 women have filed lawsuits in federal and state courts. These women say that Merck did not adequately warn them of the risk of VTE and other injury. Merck, the maker of NuvaRing, is now offering to settle those lawsuits.

On February 7, 2014, Merck announced that the company will pay $100 million to women who say they were harmed by using the NuvaRing. But the company also said, "We stand behind the research that supported the approval of NuvaRing, and our continued work to monitor the safety of the medicine.”

One hundred million dollars sounds like a lot. When it is divided by 3,800, the result is just over $26,000 per injury victim before legal fees. It costs between $10,000 and $100,000 to treat a NuvaRing blood clot injury. Is Merck’s offer really fair?

Hupy and Abraham is currently investigating NuvaRing cases. If you have suffered a blood clot, stroke, or heart attack while using NuvaRing, please contact our office at 800-800-5678.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham