All Eyes on the NuvaRing Bellwether Cases – Will They Settle or go to Trial?
A recent article by the Huffington Post highlights the potential dangers of the birth control device NuvaRing and describes the resulting litigation. More than 1400 lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of NuvaRing. These lawsuits have been consolidated in Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) in federal court in Missouri. The first cases in the litigation, known as “bellwether cases,” were originally scheduled to begin this month; however, they have been postponed until April 2014 in hopes of reaching a settlement agreement through mediation. If a settlement is not reached, the cases will proceed to trial. If you or someone in your family has been injured by using NuvaRing, contact a Maryland Personal Injury Attorney for advice about how to proceed.
The NuvaRing, manufactured by Organon International, which later merged with Merck, was hailed by many as a groundbreaking advance in contraception. Because it was easy to use and did not require women to take a pill daily, the NuvaRing was marketed as a simpler, easier form of birth control for women. There was just one problem – for some women, NuvaRing has dangerous side effects which could potentially result in death. And, in fact, NuvaRing knew of these side effects from early on in the clinical trials when a woman who tested a NuvaRing device developed a blood clot.
In 2000, as Organon prepared to market the NuvaRing in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration recommended that Organon include a warning label in the NuvaRing packaging that mentioned the product had been linked to blood clots. However, Organon pushed back against the FDA and the eventual warning label inserted into the NuvaRing packaging stated that it was “unknown” whether NuvaRing was linked to blood clots.
Ultimately, some women that used the NuvaRing did develop blood clots. In 2005, and again in 2008, the FDA mandated that NuvaRing change the warning label inserted into their packaging. The new warning label describes the results of two studies linking NuvaRing to venous thromboembolic events (a particular type of blood clots) and warns women that the NuvaRing could increase their risk of such an event. It also warns that NuvaRing can cause irregular bleeding, heart disease, hypertension, and other side effects.
In Maryland product liability law, a manufacturer can be liable for failing to warn a consumer for the dangerous propensity of the product. If the product is designed in such a way that it is dangerous for some users, the manufacturer needs include an appropriate warning in the packaging. Quite often, the legal question is whether the warning that was included with the product was sufficient to put the user on notice that they could experience a risk of injury. The NuvaRing cases provide an excellent example of how manufacturers resist putting warning labels on a product, even when they know from early testing that the product can be dangerous.