Litigation against the maker of the contraceptive NuvaRing has expanded to over 150 cases filed in state and federal court. In August, all federal cases were consolidated in multi-district litigation in Missouri under U.S. District Court Judge Rodney Sippel. If you don’t already know, NuvaRing is a vaginal contraceptive that releases estrogen and progestin. Its main advantage is convenience because the device can be left in place for three weeks instead of taking a pill every day. The lawsuits allege that the product has a design defect in the dosage and type of progestin used and that the manufacturers failed to warn about side effects including blood clotting, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, stroke and deep vein thrombosis.
The suits name NuvaRing’s manufacturer, Organon Inc., as well as Organon’s new parent company, Schering-Plough Corp., and former Dutch parent company, Akzo Nobel N.V. The women bringing the lawsuits claim that NuvaRing releases a high dosage of a type of progestin called etonogestrel – a metabolite of desogestrel, a third-generation progestin – that is more dangerous than previous generations of progestin. Public Citizen petitioned the FDA last year seeking to ban third-generation oral contraceptives containing desogestrel.
The claims in these cases are a failure to warn of a known danger, negligence, breach of warranty, consumer fraud and common law fraud. A number of claims are currently pending in a New Jersey state court after a federal magistrate judge rejected the Defendants’ argument that the claims were preempted by federal drug regulations. It will be interesting to see how these claims develop and how the Defendants deal with them.
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