NuvaRing Makers Settle Thousands of Lawsuits for $100 Million
Written by James P. Nevin
Merck & Co., maker of the NuvaRing, has agreed to pay $100 million to settle thousands of lawsuits over the safety of its intrauterine contraceptive device. Allegations that the device causes potentially fatal blood clots which may lead to heart attacks, strokes or sudden death may have fueled the company to settle. The settlement will provide an average payout of more than $58,000 per case.
Users of the device have accused the company of selling NuvaRing despite knowing it posed a higher risk of causing blood clots than competing products. The product liability lawsuits claim the company downplayed the health risks associated with the birth control denying any wrongdoing or liability. Merck contends that the estrogen and progestin laced vaginal ring, which has been on the market since 2001, is as safe or safer than birth control pills that were already approved for the U.S. market.
Merck, the second largest drug manufacturer in the U.S., is paying only a fraction of what other companies have paid in similar lawsuits. Last year, one of Merck's competitors, German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG, agreed to pay more than $1.6 billion to settle cases alleging that its Yaz and Yasmin birth control pills caused blood clotting that led to heart attacks and strokes. The settlement by Merck & Co. was announced publicly February 7, 2014.