The Clark Firm, LLP is investigating the association between Nexplanon, a hormonal birth control implant, and Benign Intracranial Hypertension (BIH). Lawsuits have already been filed by women who used birth control and developed severe, chronic headaches. Without treatment, this condition can cause incurable blindness.
What is Nexplanon?
Nexplanon, manufactured by Merck & Co., was developed as a newer version of Implanon. Both are contraceptive implants that are inserted under the skin on the arm. They both prevent pregnancy for up to three years by slowly releasing hormones into the bloodstream. The active ingredient in Nexplanon is a hormone called etonogestrel (synthetic progestin).
Nexplanon and Benign Intracranial Hypertension
There are no studies proving that Nexplanon causes Benign Intracranial Hypertension, but Nexplanon is a possible risk-factor for the disease. It occurs when abnormally high levels of cerebrospinal fluid increases pressure on the brain. The most common side effect is headaches. About 90% of cases cause vision deficits. Untreated conditions can result in permanent blindness.
What is the problem?
In 1995, researchers published a study linking the use of Norplanon — a birth control implant that is very similar to Nexplanon — with 56 cases of BIH. The difference is that Norplanon contains the hormone levonorgestrel. More recently, a number of lawsuits have been filed by women who were diagnosed with BIH after using Mirena, another contraceptive implant that contains levonorgestrel. Lawsuits accuse the manufacturers of failing to warn about the risk of BIH.
Nexplanon and Headaches
About one in four women who use Nexplanon are expected to develop headaches, according to data from clinical trials. Headaches (especially migraines) are also a symptom of BIH. The Prescribing Information for Nexplanon recommends that women who have severe or persistent headaches should talk to a doctor.
In 2012, the British Medical Journal published a study linking subcutaneous birth control implants with a 40% increased risk of blood clots. Blood clots are a potential cause of secondary intracranial hypertension. This complication occurs when blood clots travel to the brain and obstruct the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid, causing elevated pressure inside the skull.