Merck & Co. could pay $100M to settle lawsuits over contraceptive safety

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

New York, NY, United States (4E) – Merck & Co. could settle thousands of lawsuits filed against them over the safety of its NuvaRing contraceptive and could pay $100mn as long as there will be enough participation from women in the agreement.

Under the agreement, the Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck denies any wrongdoing in state and federal courts, and also in some unfiled claims. The company said around 3,800 people are eligible to take part in the accord, and 95 percent of them has to participate for the deal to proceed.

NuvaRing, which is a hormonal-vaginal contraceptive that uses a mix of estrogen and progestin in a ring to prevent women from getting pregnant, was linked in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration report released in 2011 that suggested it causes elevated risk for blood clots. The product has been sold in the U.S. market since 2001.

A federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri will oversee certain aspects of the deal. The judge has also coordinated the lawsuits related to NuvaRing to be filed in federal court.

Merck spokeswoman for Lainie Keller said the company will not admit fault under the settlement and continues to promote NuvaRing as a safe contraceptive. Merck continues to monitor the safety of the drug, Ms. Keller said.

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