Women across the U.S. use various forms of birth control daily and considering that most forms of birth control are typically prescribed by physicians, consumers assume that such drugs are fairly safe and approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration. Sometimes despite FDA approval, based on negative outcomes, drugs are recalled for safety concerns and alerts are issued.

Montana residents familiar with Merck & Co., which is the second largest pharmaceutical company, may find it interesting to learn that recently the company settled numerous product liability lawsuits in the amount of $100 million for a birth control device called the NuvaRing. This form of birth control is a hormonal vaginal ring, which, like many other contraceptives, uses the hormones estrogen and progestin; the NuvaRing has been on the market since 2001.

Even though in its settlement agreement Merck denied any wrongdoing, some women who used NuvaRing reportedly suffered blood clots, and in some cases, these clots lead to heart attacks. In fact, in 2011 the FDA attributed an increased risk of developing blood clots to the use of the NuvaRing. In the product liability lawsuits, women accused Merck of knowingly selling a product which had an association to heart attacks from blood clots caused by using NuvaRing.

However, Merck and Co. is not the only pharmaceutical company which has come under fire for a defective drug. In fact, last year, consumers who used a birth control pills manufactured by Bayer called Yasmin similarly reported that its use resulted in blood clots, which heighten the risk of a heart attack. In that case, Bayer doled out nearly $1.6 billion to settle ensuing product liability lawsuits.

In the case of Merck’s NuvaRing settlement agreement, the company is expected to pay about $58,000 toward each case.

Source: Counsel & Heal, “Merck to Pay $100 Million in NuvaRing Settlement,” Cheri Cheng, Feb. 8, 2014