Thousands of Lawsuits Filed Alleging Injury and Death from NuvaRing

NuvaRing is a convenient, but potentially dangerous newer birth control method.

On April 7, 2015, CNN published a major investigative piece about Merck and Co., Inc.'s, popular hormonal birth control device the NuvaRing and allegations that it puts users at elevated risk of dangerous blood clots and related conditions. Thousands of lawsuits in the U.S. have been filed so far, with the manufacturer settling some consolidated claims for $100 million, but with no admission of fault.

According to the article, Merck "acknowledges a very small risk of blood clots but stands by its product ..." and notes that the risk of clots is less with NuvaRing than there would be during or immediately after a pregnancy.

CNN cites the manufacturer for the information that the NuvaRing is sold in at least 50 different countries and that 44 million U.S. prescriptions have been filled. The NuvaRing is marketed as a convenient birth control method since the hormone-secreting device is inserted into a woman's body where it remains for three weeks and is then removed for one week, after which the cycle is repeated monthly.

Tragic Experiences of Users

The CNN article describes horrific injuries experienced by two young women while they were using NuvaRing, episodes that included pulmonary embolisms and in one case, cardiac arrest, coma and death. Hospital records for both women mention the use of NuvaRing as a risk factor for their pulmonary embolisms, which are blockages in lung arteries caused by blood clots.

CNN reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved NuvaRing for sale in 2001. It was made and sold by two predecessor companies until Merck bought the previous manufacturer in 2009.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, some internal disagreement occurred at the FDA about approval and labeling of NuvaRing because of the risk of blood clotting, and after sales began, hundreds of adverse event reports were received by the agency detailing health complications experienced by users.

Increased label warnings have since been ordered by FDA in response to medical studies, but lawsuits allege that consumer warnings of potential dangerous side effects like blood clots and pulmonary embolism have been inadequate for NuvaRing. In particular, while adverse blood-clotting-related events have been shown to occur at a rate comparable to other, newer birth-control products, the risk is higher than it was with earlier so-called second-generation birth control methods.

Potential Legal Claims

When a consumer patient is harmed by a dangerous drug, several types of legal claims may be possible as bases for a lawsuit for money damages for losses like medical costs, pain and suffering, legal fees, lost wages and more, as well as for punitive damages meant to punish the defendant and deter others from similar conduct. Examples of possible claims in a defective medical device case, depending on the circumstances, could include:

  • Failure to warn or inadequate warning
  • False advertising
  • Product liability for defective design or manufacturing
  • Breach of express or implied warranty
  • Medical malpractice
  • Medical negligence
  • Negligence
  • Misrepresentation
  • Wrongful death
  • And more

Anyone who has experienced serious medical problems while using NuvaRing (or whose loved one has died) should speak with an experienced personal injury or wrongful death attorney about possible legal remedies.

From their offices in Novato (San Francisco) and Los Angeles, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Portland, Oregon, the personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Brayton Purcell LLP represent clients injured by dangerous medical devices and drugs.

Keywords: NuvaRing, birth control, lawsuit, injury, wrongful death, CNN, blood clot, manufacturer, Merck, hormone, pulmonary embolism, risk, FDA, labeling, defective medical device