January 14, 2013 — Trial dates in the NuvaRing litigation have been pushed back from May until July 8, 2013, according to an order issued in November 2012 by U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel, who is currently presiding over the consolidated litigation.
The lawsuits allege that Merck & Co., and their Organon Pharmaceutical subsidiary, failed to warn about the increased risk of blood clots, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, stroke, and death associated with NuvaRing birth control.
Now that the trial dates have been pushed back, people who were injured by NuvaRing may still have time to file a lawsuit and join the litigation. Merck also has additional time to negotiate a potential NuvaRing settlement.
The problems with NuvaRing were highlighted in May 2012, when the British Medical Journal published a Danish study linking NuvaRing to a 90% increased risk of blood clots. One month later, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study linking NuvaRing to a 2.5-fold increased risk of thrombotic stroke.
Since these studies were published, the number of NuvaRing lawsuits has surpassed 1,000 in federal and state court. Most of the litigation has been centralized in a federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Nearly 200 lawsuits are filed in state court in New Jersey.
In most large medical device litigation, lawyers select a group of “bellwether” trials to go before a jury. The decisions in these early trials often help determine the settlement value for other cases. If a settlement cannot be reached, the lawsuits are remanded back to the state court where they were originally filed.
NuvaRing is a type of hormonal birth control that a woman inserts in her vagina once per month, leaves in place for three weeks, and removes to allow menstruation. The round, flexible device releases tiny amounts of a synthetic hormone called etonogestrel. The problem with etonogestrel is that it is a “third-generation” progestin, which has been linked to higher risks of blood clots than “second-generation” progestins like levonorgestrel and others.