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Merck is set to pay millions to settle claims related to its NuvaRing contraceptive, an intrauterine device that's been associated with heart attacks, strokes, and death.
The pharmaceutical company announced Friday that it plans to pay $100 million to settle nationwide lawsuits over NuvaRing, which allegedly increased users' risks of forming dangerous blood clots, Reuters reports.
How will former NuvaRing users be compensated?
Studies Show NuvaRing Increased Clot Risk
As portrayed in a past NuvaRing ad, Merck sold women a contraceptive device on the promise that it would free them from the daily grind of taking "the pill." You can see one of those ads here:
Unfortunately, a Danish study released in 2012 found that women using NuvaRing may be twice as likely to develop dangerous blood clots. Theoe clots (also referred to as deep vein thrombosis), if left untreated, could eventually travel to the heart or brain, causing potentially lethal heart attacks or strokes.
Armed with this new study, thousands of women who used NuvaRing sued Merck, claiming that the product was defective. If Friday's proposed settlement goes through, Merck will not be held liable for nearly 4,000 women's potential injuries.
Is $100 Million Too Much? Not Enough?
Merck's lawyers may be fairly happy with the settlement, as $100 million may be a steal given the circumstances. Reuters reports that German competitor Bayer AG -- the maker of Yaz and Yazmin birth control pills -- settled a similar blood clot lawsuit for almost $1.6 billion.
Still, having only a fraction of Bayer's money on the table to settle Merck's suit may prove problematic. Even if 95 percent of the patients in the lawsuit agree to Merck's terms, a judge may still reject the proposed settlement if he or she feels $100 million is not enough.
Although no details have been released on the mechanics of the proposed Merck settlement, it is likely that the $100 million would be parceled out based on the severity of each plaintiff's injuries. With approximately 3,800 patients waiting to receive compensation, it may not take long to whittle down the proposed multimillion-dollar settlement award.