NuvaRing is an FDA approved vaginal contraceptive ring that contains the synthetic hormone etonogestrel, a metabolite of desogestrel. In 2007 a consumer group called Public Citizen petitioned the Federal Drug Administration to ban contraceptives containing desogestrel due to an "increased risk of blood clots". Fatalities and injuries are allegedly associated with this contraceptive and are the focus of recent NuvaRing drug litigation.
NuvaRing is a birth control product sold by Organon USA Inc., which is located in New Jersey. The device was approved for use by the FDA in 2001.
How NuvaRing Works
The clear flexible ring is approximately 2” in diameter and is inserted in the vagina once a month. The device releases a continuous amount of two synthetic hormones, etonogestrel and ethinyl estradiol, which are absorbed directly into the blood stream from the vagina. The hormones suppress ovulation and cause cervical mucus to thicken, thereby inhibiting sperm motility.
Past History of Contraceptive Safety Concerns
When the first birth control pill was approved by the FDA and released to the public in 1960, it contained high doses of estrogen. Many women reported weight gain, nausea and depression while taking “the Pill”. By 1962, reports of hazardous side effects such as venous thrombosis, stroke and heart attacks began to surface.
In the early 1970’s the “second generation” of birth control pills were developed with the intent to reduce thrombosis. The pills were formulated using lower amounts of estrogen and a progestin called levonorgestrel. Androgenic side effects caused by the progestin included acne and facial hair.
Third generation birth control products were formulated a decade later to reduce the androgenic effects of second generation products, using desogestrel or gestodene instead of levonorgestrel. NuvaRing is a third generation contraceptive.
NuvaRing Side Effects
Common side effects reported by women using NuvaRing include vaginitis, weight gain, headache, nausea and mood change.
Women who use combination hormonal contraceptives run an elevated risk of developing clots compared to women who use barrier methods. However, epidemiological studies conducted by the World Health Organization suggest that women who use combined oral contraceptives containing estrogen and either desogestrel or gestodene, are twice as likely to develop deep vein thrombosis (DVTs) and pulmonary embolisms than women using second generation contraceptives.
DVT symptoms include redness, pain, swelling or excessive warmth in one leg. The embolism can break away and travel to the heart, brain or lungs and cause heart attack, stroke, or death.
NuvaRing Drug Lawsuits
Scores of personal injury and wrongful death cases have been filed in the federal court system by plaintiffs who allege that Organon USA failed to warn consumers about the potential of NuvaRing to cause blood clot complications. In 2008 the federal cases were consolidated and assigned to the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. (Learn more about Failure to Warn Product Liability claims.)
In March 2009, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered all future and pending New Jersey state court cases concerning NuvaRing drug litigation to be “centralized” but not “consolidated” in the Bergen County Justice Center in Hackensack, New Jersey for mass tort litigation management.