Making decisions about contraception is one of the most important and intimate healthcare concerns for women and their families. Women want birth control that is reliable and safe, with a minimum of dangerous or uncomfortable side effects.
NuvaRing, a flexible vaginal ring that a woman can insert herself, promised to be just that. However, the manufacturer failed to warn about potential serious side effects, and many women have suffered injury and death as a result.
The NuvaRing works by releasing the hormones estrogen and progestin. While the dose of the hormones is low, it uses a form of progestin known as desogestrel, an ingredient common in third-generation combination birth control pills. This synthetic hormone is known to increase the risk of blood clots.
In 2007, the consumer group Public Citizen filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the use of desogestrel in third-generation oral contraceptives, especially since there was no clinical benefit over products that did not contain this hormone. To date, the FDA has not issued such a ban, even though they have received more than a thousand reports of serious problems resulting from NuvaRing-related blood clots.
NuvaRing appears to increase the risk for blood clots, putting women in danger of:
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Pulmonary embolism
- Heart attack
Many injured women and families who have lost a loved one have filed lawsuits against Merck and Organonon Pharmaceuticals, the company responsible for manufacturing and marketing NuvaRing. More than a thousand cases have been consolidated in a federal Multi-District Litigation, with a trial scheduled for May of 2013.