NuvaRing is a popular birth control device marketed by Merck & Co. However, some recent studies suggest that women who use NuvaRing might be more likely to experience heart attacks and strokes, as well pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis and other dangerous blood clots.
NuvaRing, the first and only contraceptive ring, was developed by Organon and brought to market in 2001. In 2007, Organon was acquired by Schering-Plough for $14 billion. Merck & Co completed a $41 billion merger with Schering-Plough just two years later.
NuvaRing is small flexible ring about 2 inches in diameter that a woman inserts into the vagina once a month to prevent pregnancy. Once it’ inserted, the ring remains in place for three weeks. It is removed on the fourth week, at which time a woman will experience her normal menstrual period.
Since its introduction, more than 5.5 million NuvaRing prescriptions have been written worldwide. International sales of the device hit $623 million in 2012. NuvaRing‘s popularity is largely a product of its convenience. While it is just as effective as birth control pills, women who use NuvaRing don’t have to worry about taking a pill every day.
NuvaRing releases a continuous daily dose of 0.120 mg of etonogestrel (progestin) and 0.015 mg of ethinyl estradiol (estrogen). The device is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. The hormones in NuvaRing prevent an egg from leaving the ovary, thereby preventing conception. They also cause cervical mucus to thicken, making it more difficult for sperm to enter a woman’s reproductive system.
Common NuvaRing side effects include:
The most serious NuvaRing side effects include potentially deadly cardiovascular complications such as:
Some recent studies suggest that women who use NuvaRing might be more likely to suffer these complications compared to those using other hormonal contraceptives.
In 2008, a federal multidistrict litigation was established in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Illinois for all federally-filed NuvaRing lawsuits involving the device’s alleged cardiovascular side effects. The NuvaRing litigation would eventually include more than 1,500 cases. In 2014, Merck agreed to settle nearly all of the claims for $100 million.
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