The Low Post News

Merck Must Pay $100 Million in Contraceptive Lawsuits

Merck & Co will pay out over $100 million to settle lawsuits regarding its prescription contraceptive ring NuvaRing. Sources close to the situation confirmed the agreement.

Merck has over 1,700 lawsuits pending regarding the NuvaRing. Users have claimed that Merck did not warn consumers adequately of the higher risk of developing blood clots that could be fatal when the NuvaRing was being used.

The at times fatal blood clots that induce heart attacks described by the plaintiffs, are known by the name venous thromboembolism, said a recent filing in the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S.

Plaintiffs in lawsuits versus Merck sought damages for varying injuries that were allegedly caused by using the NuvaRing including stroke, heart attack and sudden death.

A hormonal contraceptive, NuvaRing combines both progestin and estrogen in a vaginal ring that prevents pregnancy. It has been available for women in the U.S. since 2001. The device first became linked with the sometimes fatal blood clots during 2011 by the Food and Drug Administration.   The regulatory agency found the form of progestin that was used in NuvaRing was twice as apt to cause blood clots as similar hormonal forms of contraceptives.

Last week, Merck agreed to the settlement that would resolved the lawsuits in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Missouri as well as provide a payout that will average $58,000 for every complaint.

Those dollar figures and amount of lawsuits might seem large, but Merck could actually be doing quite well compared to other pharmaceuticals such as Bayer AG, whose Yazmin and Yaz pills for birth control last year came under fire for similar situations. The pills caused an increased probably of blood clots that could lead to stroke or heart attack.

Thus far, Bayer paid out more than $1.6 billion in different lawsuits related to the drug.

Merck opened on Wall Street on Friday down just 5 cents at $53.72. The company reported earnings for the fourth quarter below estimates or 88 cents per share.

Merck forecast profits in 2014 of between $3.35 and $3.53 per share, which was compared to a share price by analysts of $3.48 per share.

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