Merck to Pay $100 Million in NuvaRing Settlement
The second-largest Pharmaceutical Company, Merck & Co. has announced that it will pay $100 million in the NuvaRing settlement. According to the product liability lawsuits, consumers claimed that the birth control item NuvaRing caused blood clots. In some of these cases, the blood clots led to heart attacks. NuvaRing has denied any faults under the agreement.
"We stand behind the research that supported the approval of NuvaRing, and our continued work to monitor the safety of the medicine," said Merck spokeswoman Lainie Keller according to Huffington Post. "There is substantial evidence to support the safety and efficacy of NuvaRing, and we encourage women to work jointly with their healthcare providers to discuss benefits and risks of any contraception approach before choosing an option that is right for them."
Merck's settlement involved several cases belonging to the federal and state courts of Missouri and New Jersey. In New Jersey, female customers stated that Merck's Whitehouse Station knowingly sold NuvaRing despite the product's link to heart attack risks caused by blood clots. The payout will roughly be around an average of $58,000 per case. According to Merck, 3,800 people are eligible to take part in the settlement and in order for the settlement to take effect, 95 percent of the people must participate.
Based from previous settlements, Merck's payout is relatively low. Just last year, Bayer AG (BAYN) paid over $1.6 billion after lawsuits were filed against its Yasmin and Yaz lines of birth-control pills. The customers stated that the pills caused blood clots that increased heart attack and stroke risks.
"Merck may be getting out much more cheaply than its competitors because proving the liability case against the NuvaRing device appears to be more difficult than against the other contraceptives," Carl Tobias, who teaches product-liability law at the University of Richmond in Virginia, explained according to Bloomberg News.
NuvaRing works as a hormonal contraceptive that comes in the form of a vaginal ring. The ring contains hormones, estrogen and progestin, which can often be found in other birth control options as well. In 2011, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that NuvaRing was tied to an increased risk of blood clots. The product has been sold in the country since 2001.