NuvaRing is a 2-inch, flexible “vaginal ring” that is used to prevent pregnancy. Unfortunately, recent studies have linked it to as much as a 6.5-fold increased risk of blood clots compared to non-users, and a doubled risk of blood clots compared to “second-generation” contraceptives like levonorgestrel. Now, Merck & Co. is facing over 1,500 NuvaRing lawsuits from women who allege that the company misled them about its severe, life-threatening side effects.
What is a NuvaRing?
NuvaRing is an O-shaped contraceptive device known as a “vaginal ring.” It is inserted directly into the vagina, where it releases small amounts of hormones that help prevent pregnancy. These hormones include ethinyl estradiol (estrogen) and etonogestrel (progestin). NuvaRing is left inside the vagina for up to three weeks and removed for one week to allow menstruation. It was developed by Organon Pharmaceuticals, now part of Merck & Co., and approved by the FDA in 2001.
NuvaRing and Blood Clots
The problem with NuvaRing is etonogestrel, a “third-generation” synthetic type of progestin. Unlike older generations of progestin, etonogestrel has been linked to a doubled risk of blood clots compared to “second-generation” progestins like levonorgestrel
In May 2012, the British Medical Journal published a study in which NuvaRing was associated with a 6.5-fold increased risk of blood clots compared to women who do not use contraceptives, corresponding to about 8 events per 10,000 women who use NuvaRing in one year.
Study Links NuvaRing and Stroke
In June 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study from Denmark that linked NuvaRing to a 2.5-fold increased risk of stroke caused by blood clots. The conclusions were based on data from over 1.6 million women over 15 years. Researchers warned:
“Our data suggest a relatively high risk of thrombotic stroke with the use of a vaginal ring.”
Merck & Co. is facing approximately 1,500 NuvaRing lawsuits involving blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. Most of these lawsuits are pending in a federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) that was established in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in 2008, and the rest have been centralized in a state court litigation in New Jersey. Although the first trials were scheduled for 2013, they have been repeatedly pushed back as lawyers have engaged in settlement negotiations.
NuvaRing Side Effects
- Blood clots
- Venous thromboembolism
- Heart attack
- Pulmonary Embolism (PE)
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Hepatic neoplasia
- Gallbladder disease
- Organ damage (blindness, brain damage, etc.)