The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken some heed to the concerns about various methods of birth control, going so far as to hear testimony from the parents of a 24-year-old who died after using NuvaRing. The patient in question, Erika Langhart, had been using the NuvaRing birth control when she died, and her parents believe she developed a pulmonary embolism because of her use of the NuvaRing. On December 8 and 9, 2011, the FDA held an advisory committee meeting regarding birth control. Although NuvaRing was not the focus of the hearings, the committee heard testimony from Langhart's parents about the NuvaRing on December 9, according to The Durango Herald (2/17/12).
According to Rick Langhart's testimony (transcript available at FDA.gov), EMTs were called to Erika's apartment after she suffered a heart attack. While the EMTs gave Erika CPR over a 30-minute period, she reportedly suffered three more heart attacks. "Unfortunately, the blood clot was so massive that it clogged her lungs, that she never had a chance," Rick Langhart said. Two days after suffering four heart attacks, Erika was pronounced dead.
When Karen Langhart testified, she reported that Erika's doctors identified the NuvaRing as the cause of Erika's death, and the doctors in fact removed the NuvaRing when they learned she was using it.
NuvaRing uses a combination of Desogestrel and ethinyl estradiol. An FDA study of birth control found that the risk of cardiovascular side effects increased when women took birth control that contained 30 to 40 micrograms of ethinyl estradiol, which NuvaRing contains.
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Meanwhile, lawsuits have been filed against the makers of various forms of birth control—including the NuvaRing—arguing that patients were not adequately warned about the increased risks associated with the contraceptives.
"Why are these third and fourth generation contraceptives prescribed to young women when they are known to have risks and there are safer second generation contraceptives out there?" Karen Langhart asked. "We believe that our daughter would still be alive had the third generation contraception not been prescribed to her."
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