ST. LOUIS, MO, February 11, 2014 ( – The pharmaceutical company Merck has agreed to pay $100 million to settle lawsuits that its contraceptive device the NuvaRing causes blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, and potentially death for the young women who use it.

Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel in St. Louis said the settlement brought “a fair resolution” to the 3,800 complaints pending review in his court.


Plaintiffs said the drug's manufacturers had not adequately disclosed the dangers the device posed to women and tried to have warnings about the likelihood the device would cause blood clots removed.

The NuvaRing, introduced for sale in 2001, is the first of its kind ring that is inserted vaginally for three weeks, releasing hormones that prevent pregnancy – or that may act to induce an early abortion.

However, it was the safety of women that triggered Friday's settlement.

As women who suffered from serious side effects connected, the number of cases against Merck ballooned from 700 in April 2011, to 1,163 in May 2013, to more than 1,850 as of the settlement.

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Merck, which acquired the device after a merger, will pay $58,000 to 3,800 eligible participants – but only if 95 percent of them agree to the terms.

The amount, while substantial, is significantly less than Bayer's $1.6 billion settlement in the case of side effects caused by Yaz/Yasmin.

Paul Rheingold, who represents 450 plaintiffs from New York, said $100 million may be too low for enough women to agree to end litigation. If the women agree another lawyer, Roger Denton, said the women's legal team stands to make a $30 to $40 million payday from the settlement in various fees.

Merck made $623 million from global sales of the NuvaRing in 2012.

Ironically, the company's stock rose one percent on the day the settlement was announced.