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NuvaRing May Have More Risks than Benefits

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
  • Stroke

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.