Merck will pay $100 million to resolve lawsuits stemming from side effects associated with its NuvaRing contraceptive ring.
Since 2007 Merck has been facing lawsuits from patients and families of women who suffered problems including heart attacks and strokes and even death using NuvaRing. The plaintiffs said Merck downplayed the product's side effects.
Merck said the agreement will resolve all U.S. litigation over the product. The settlement will also cover some patients who are eligible to bring a lawsuit against the company but haven't yet filed suit. Merck said it isn't acknowledging any fault. The Whitehouse Station, N.J., company, said there were about 1,715 lawsuits related to NuvaRing as of Sept. 30.
Severe side effects connected to NuvaRing include blood clots, strokes and heart attacks, high blood pressure and heart disease, and cancer of the reproductive organs and breast.
NuvaRing is a hormonal contraceptive inside a flexible ring that is inserted in the vagina and left in place for three weeks out of every month. The ring slowly releases two hormones into the vaginal wall: ethinyl estradiol, a type of estrogen that is widely used in contraceptives, and a progestin called etonogestrel. Merck has been selling NuvaRing since 2002.
The company reported $686 million in revenue from NuvaRing in 2013, up 10 percent from the previous year. That was less than 2 percent of Merck's total sales.
Shares of Merck & Co. rose 94 cents to $54.71 in afternoon trading.