Like other birth control options, NuvaRing is relatively safe but comes with certain risks. Unlike other contraceptives, however, NuvaRing caused serious complications in otherwise healthy women and did not warn users about an increased risk for blood clots and pulmonary embolisms until October 2013.
What Is NuvaRing?
NuvaRing is a form of hormonal birth control that users insert into their vagina once a month. Once in place, the ring emits hormones that stop ovulation and thicken cervical mucus, thus preventing pregnancy. The way NuvaRing works is similar to the contraceptive pill, but women do not have to remember to take a dose each day.
Compared to other combination hormone contraceptives, like birth control pills and patches, though, NuvaRing has heightened risks for dangerous blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.
Unaware of these risks, many otherwise healthy women, some as young as 24, used NuvaRing and found themselves gasping for air or suffering from multiple heart attacks. In a significant portion of these cases, the women succumbed to their injuries.
Settlement and Pending Suits
As a result of these complications, many NuvaRing users, and families of those who died after using the device, filed suit against Merck & Co., the product’s manufacturer. In February 2014, Merck settled all claims against the company for $100 million. Approximately 3,800 people were eligible for the settlement, but many who were affected chose to opt-out.
One woman stated:
“People who lost their daughters or wives, the compensation [was] $74,000, which may sound like it’s a lot of money but not for someone’s life.”
As of April 2019, 89 cases against Merck were still pending.
Unaware of the Risks
Many women who used NuvaRing and suffered negative reactions were entirely unaware of the risks associated with the product. One woman was training for the Olympics one day and hospitalized with multiple pulmonary embolisms the next. Another was planning to visit her parents when she collapsed, suffered several heart attacks in the back of an ambulance, slipped into a coma, and died as a result of irreversible brain swelling – all incited by NuvaRing, blood clots, and pulmonary embolisms.
These women were not aware of the potential danger of the product they were using, nor were the doctors that prescribed it. The FDA allowed the drug to be distributed and called these risk factors “acceptable,” because even with the increased potential for blood clots and other adverse effects, “it is more dangerous to be pregnant.”
Getting Away With Murder
While Olympic athletes and healthy young women were suffering from NuvaRing’s horrific side effects, Merck made upwards of $600 million per year from the product. The year of the settlement (2014), the company made $723 million from NuvaRing alone.
“In our opinion,” said one affected family, “Merck got away with murder, and continues to do so to this day.”
Drugs like Yas and Yasmin, manufactured by Bayer, and the Ortho Evra patch, distributed by Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., have also been associated with blood clots and pulmonary embolisms.
Many argue that for these companies, settlements – and women’s lives – are just the cost of doing business.
While some of these drugs, like the aforementioned patch, have been discontinued, NuvaRing remains on the market.
What Are My Options?
If you use NuvaRing or another method of hormonal birth control, be sure to read the label carefully. You can also choose an alternate form of contraception, such as condoms or a copper IUD.
If you or a loved one has experienced an adverse effect, especially one not outlined on the label, please contact Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC today.
To get started, call us 24/7 at (866) 675-4427 or request a free consultation online.