Merck & Co has reportedly agreed to pay $100 million to settle thousands of product liability cases filed by women injured by the NuvaRing contraceptive medical device. The agreement will provide an average benefit of $58,000 to those who suffered deep vein thrombosis (blood clots), pulmonary embolism from a blood clots or death.
The estate of those fatally injured would be eligible to claim a higher settlement amount.
Merck, the drugmaker from Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, will pay the $100 million on the condition that 95 percent of the injured women join the settlement. If that does not occur, Merck then has the option to withdraw its offer and take its chance in court.
NuvaRing is a contraceptive ring that is inserted in the vagina. It contains the hormones estrogen and progestin and has been sold in the U.S. since 2001.
In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported NuvaRing was linked to a higher risk of blood clots than other contraceptives due to the newer type of progestin. There are at least a dozen studies that show NuvaRing is twice as likely to cause these blockages, reports Bloomberg.
The victims of NuvaRing say they never would have used the contraceptive had they known about the dangers and that Merck withheld the dangers of blood clots from both patients and healthcare practitioners.
So far there are at least 1,500 lawsuits naming NuvaRing consolidated in St. Louis. The first defective product trial is set for April and there are 200 lawsuits filed in New Jersey that will be included in the settlement.
Bayers contraceptives Yaz and Yasmin generated a $1.6 billion settlement for those women injured by the oral contraceptives who suffered a heart attack and stroke or for whom the pills were fatal.
NuvaRing brought Merck (maker of Vioxx) $623 million in profit in 2012, so in terms of strictly numbers, the drugmaker is still ahead of the game.