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$100M Settlement Pending in Merck NuvaRing MDL

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New York, NYA potential $100 million settlement has been reached by Merck & Co, in the long-running NuvaRing contaceptive multi-district litigation (MDL). Merck is currently facing thousands of defective product and personal injury lawsuits filed by women who allege the pharmaceutical company failed to adequately warn women about the potential increased risk for developing dangerous blood clots known as venous thromboembolism associated with the device. Plaintiffs are seeking damages for a range of injuries allegedly caused by the birth control device, including heart attack, stroke and sudden death.

According to media reports, if enough women agree to the settlement, it will effectively end as many as 3,800 cases in federal and state courts in New Jersey and Missouri. According to the terms of the preliminary settlement granted by Judge Brian Martinotti 95 percent of the plaintiffs must participate in the agreement. If more than 5 percent of plaintiffs refuse the offer, Merck can walk away from the deal, Martinotti said.

“The settlement is a fair resolution of this litigation,” the judge said. “This is a lump-sum settlement of $100 million that covers the entire litigation nationwide.”

The settlement, which includes cases filed in St. Louis federal court, means Merck is following suit with Bayer, which last year paid in excess of $1.6 billion to settle claims stemming from allegations its Yaz and Yasmin lines of birth-control pills caused blood clots that led to strokes and heart attacks.

New Jersey-based Merck is not admitting any wrongdoing under the settlement and continues to believe NuvaRing is a safe contraceptive. A spokesperson for Merck said the company continues to “monitor the safety of the medicine.”

The settlement compensates women for three classes of injuries arising from blood clots, specifically, deep-vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolisms and death. The settlement structured so that women with more severe injuries will qualify for larger payments.

The consolidated cases are In Re NuvaRing Products Litigation, 08-md-01964, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis). The consolidated New Jersey cases are In RE: NuvaRing Litigation, BER-L-3081-09, Superior Court of New Jersey (Bergen County).

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