NuvaRing Lawsuits Consolidated

Federal lawsuits involving the contraceptive device NuvaRing have been consolidated by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.  The consolidation means that all <"">NuvaRing cases now pending in federal court, and those filed in the future,  will be heard in the Eastern District of Missouri before Judge Rodney W. Sippel.

NuvaRing, made by Organon International, is a transparent, flexible vaginal ring that provides month-long birth control by emitting a continuous dose of estrogen and progestin for 21 days.  But since NuvaRing hit the market in 2001, it has been the subject of many lawsuits related to blood clots. It’s also been blamed for 12 deaths nationwide.

NuvaRing releases a combination of ethinyl estradiol, a form of the hormone estrogen, and etonogestral. Etonogestral is an active metabolite of desogestrel, a form of the hormone progestin.  In 2003 the New England Journal of Medicine published two studies that concluded that the use of low-estrogen oral contraceptives containing the progestin desogestrel significantly  increases the risk of venous thromboembolism, a potentially fatal type of  blood clot, more than low-estrogen birth control pills containing levonorgestrel.

In 2007, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen asked federal regulators to ban oral contraceptives that  contained forms of desogestral because this dangerous progestin has been implicated in a higher risk of strokes, blood clots and other cardiovascular problems.  NuvaRing releases approximately 120 micrograms of etonogestral – an active desogestral metabolite – per day, a relatively high dose of this dangerous hormone.

On August 22, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation granted a petition filed by plaintiffs involved in federal NuvaRing  lawsuits to create the NuvaRing Multidistrict litigation.  The plaintiffs suggested in their petition that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri was the particular federal district court that should be assigned the NuvaRing Multidistrict Litigation. The plaintiffs said that one case pending there, Sarah M. Jenn v. Organon International, Inc., et al,. had progressed further in the pre-trial stage of litigation than most if not all other NuvaRing lawsuits filed in federal court.

Multidistrict Litigation is not the same as a class action lawsuit. Each case in a Multidistrict Litigation retains its own identity. If the Multidistrict Litigation process does not resolve the cases, they are transferred back to the court where they originated for trial.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation of the United States Courts was created in 1968. Since then, it has consolidated hundreds of thousands of lawsuits that involved high numbers of plaintiffs, including litigation over asbestos, breast implants and other matters.

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