The vaginal contraceptive NuvaRing has been linked to blood-clot-related fatalities; but the head of a group representing Canada’s obstetricians and gynecologists says the dangers are overblown.
Merck, NuvaRing’s manufacturer, faces roughly 3,500 lawsuits related to the product, including a major class-action suit.
Plaintiffs allege they suffered serious adverse effects, including deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot in a deep vein that can travel to the lungs and cause organ damage and death.
Concerns about the NuvaRing rest largely on two studies. In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that women using the vaginal ring had a 56 percent increased risk of blood clots compared with those on contraceptives using an older form of estrogen.
In 2012, a Danish study published in the British Medical Journal found that women who used the vaginal ring were at least six times more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis than women who did not use hormonal contraceptives.
The studies suggest NuvaRing may carry the risk of a third-generation hormonal product. This class also includes the controversial Yaz and Yasmin birth-control pills that have cost manufacturer Bayer more than a billion dollars in out-of-court settlements.
Why, despite evidence of serious risk, does a potentially lethal contraceptive remain on the market?
Marjorie Jenkins, MD, is the Executive Director of the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women's Health in Amarillo at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Dr. Jenkins explains if the alarming reports put the risks in context and if you should consider another birth-control option.