Merck Agree to $100 million Settlement

Merck and Co, a pharmaceutical company, has agreed to a $100 million settlement with several thousand individuals who were harmed by their NuvaRing contraceptive device. This device is said to have caused severe blood clots and led to several fatalities.

This is a huge settlement for Merck and Co, considering their earlier determination to fight this case until the end. The $100 million will be spread across many plaintiffs, and comes out to an average of $58,000 for each individual. The individuals who brought the case against Merck and Co have requested they not be named in any news stories.

Intentional Ignorance:

In addition to providing a method of contraception that resulted in severe blood clots, Merck and Co was accused of knowing that the device could cause these problems. It is said that the clinical studies completed on NuvaRing indicated that the product formed blood clots in some users, greatly increasing the chance of them suffering a heart attack.

Fair Settlement?

Despite the eye catching figure of $100 million, it is worth noting that Merck and Co may have gotten off lightly in this situation. Competing pharmaceutical companies paid a lot more to consumers when problems were discovered with their devices. For example, Bayer AG paid over $1.6 billion to plaintiffs in relation to Yasmin and Yaz, their contraceptive product. Yaz was also said to have led to blood clots and heart attacks.

Carl Tobias, a product liability law professor in Virginia, states that Merck got off cheaply in this case. “Merck may be getting out cheaply [as compared to its competitors] because proving the liability against the NuvaRing device appears to be more difficult.” Neither Merck nor the plaintiffs’ lawyer have been willing to make a comment on this fact, or on the amount of the settlement.

Decade of Trouble:

NuvaRing has been sold in the United States since 2001, but it was only in 2011 when the FDA linked it to cases involving blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes among women. Since then, there have been close to a dozen studies that showed where the problem lay. The type of progsetin used in NuvaRing has a 200% greater chance of causing blood clots than other varieties.

There have been thousands of cases where women suffered strokes, or died, due to NuvaRing.

While most women were unable to prove that NuvaRing caused their clots, the sheer circumstantial data and public perception against Merck meant that a settlement was necessary.

Sources:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-06/merck-said-to-agree-to-100-million-nuvaring-settlement.html
http://healthland.time.com/2014/02/07/nuvaring-settlement-100-million-dollars/