The hormonal contraceptive device NuvaRing, also known as the “vaginal ring,” may significantly increase a woman’s risk of blood clots and pulmonary embolism compared to other types of birth control. Unfortunately, many women were unaware of the potentially deadly risks. The manufacturer of NuvaRing, Merck & Co., is already facing a massive litigation involving more than 1,000 NuvaRing lawsuits.
NuvaRing and Pulmonary Embolism
NuvaRing, also known as a “vaginal ring,” is a hormonal contraceptive device that a woman inserts in her vagina. Once inside the body, NuvaRing releases tiny amounts of hormones. The problem with NuvaRing is that one of these hormones, etonogestrel, is associated with higher rates of blood clots and pulmonary embolism than many other contraceptives, but it is no more effective at preventing pregnancy. Many women were unaware of this increased risk when they used NuvaRing.
Studies of NuvaRing Blood Clots
Pulmonary embolisms occur when a blood clot travels to the lungs and blocks a blood vessel. Several studies have associated NuvaRing with higher rates of blood clots, and many lawsuits have been filed by women who subsequently suffered a pulmonary embolism.
One study that linked NuvaRing to blood clots was this study, published in May 2012 by the British Medical Journal. The results were based on data from 1.6 million women in Denmark between 2001 and 2010. The researchers warned:
“The vaginal ring confers at least a sixfold increased risk of venous thrombosis … a risk which is about twice the risk among women using second-generation pills with levonorgestrel.”
What is a Pulmonary Embolism?
A pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein in the lower body (often in a condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis), breaks loose, travels into the lungs, and blocks a major blood vessel in the lungs. The severity of the condition depends on the size of the clot and how much lung tissue is starved of oxygen. In severe cases, a pulmonary embolism can cause severe lung tissue damage and even death.
Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include:
- Unexplained shortness of breath, which may occur suddenly
- Chest pain, which may worsen with coughing or breathing
- Rapid heart rate or palpitations
- Rapid breathing
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Coughing up blood
- Light-headedness or fainting
- Bluish skin discoloration
- Leg pain, redness, or swelling
NuvaRing DVT Lawsuits
The manufacturer of NuvaRing, Merck & Co., is facing two large centralized litigations involving NuvaRing. One involves nearly 200 lawsuits and is filed in state court in New Jersey. However, the majority of NuvaRing lawsuits are filed in federal court, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The first trials are scheduled to begin in 2013.
The lawsuits have been centralized because they all involve women with injuries related to blood clots, including Deep Vein Thrombosis. These serious NuvaRing side effects include:
- Heart attack
- Blood clots
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Pulmonary embolisms
- Venous thrombosis
- Organ damage
- Permanent disability