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Merck Settles NuvaRing Blood Clot Lawsuits

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According to confidential sources, Merck & Co. has agreed to pay $100 million to settle more than 1,700 lawsuits. These cases allege that the NuvaRing contraceptive device causes potentially fatal blood clots in women.

The settlement, which resolves cases in federal and state courts in Missouri and New Jersey, will provide an average payout of more than $58,000 a case and will be announced tomorrow.

The plaintiffs claim that Merck sold NuvaRing knowing it had a higher risk of blood clots, particularly deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism than other oral contraceptive products.

Merck Got Off Cheap

The settlement is good news for Merck, since it is paying a fraction of what competing contraceptive makers, such as Bayer AG, paid to settle suits over their pills. Bayer said that it has paid more than $1.6 billion to resolve claims over its Yasmin and Yaz lines of birth-control pills. Women said Yaz caused blood clots that led to deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

2,000 NuvaRing Lawsuits

According to the latest update provided by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on January 15, there are currently at least 1,573 NuvaRing cases pending before Judge Sipple in the federal MDL, which is centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

There are at least another 212 cases pending in New Jersey state court, according to an update issued in December in the centralized proceedings established in that state. A handful of other cases are pending in other state courts, including about a dozen cases centralized in California state court.

FDA Report

NuvaRing is a hormonal-vaginal contraceptive that combines both estrogen and progestin in a ring. The product, which was linked in a 2011 U.S. Food and Drug Administration report to a higher risk for blood clots, has been sold in the U.S. since 2001.

The consolidated cases are In Re NuvaRing Products Litigation, 08-MD-1962, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis). The consolidated New Jersey cases are In RE: NuvaRing Litigation, BER-L-3081-09, Superior Court of New Jersey (Bergen County).