Consumer-oriented women’s products like NuvaRing and Mirena, sometimes billed as the “next generation of contraceptives”, are proving to be more hazardous than helpful. This has resulted in a fresh wave of personal injury litigation as damages mount and formerly healthy women seek legal reparations for their impaired reproductive health and overall well-being.
The first product, NuvaRing, is available by prescription only, as are all contraceptives. It was also the subject of a heavily funded advertising campaign (thus the term consumer-oriented), which has since been withdrawn on the news that Nuva Ring may be implicated in at least two deaths.
NuvaRing is, as its name implies, a flexible plastic ring which delivers low doses of progestin and estrogen in varied amounts during the month to prevent conception. Jointly developed byMerck & Co., Schering-Plough, and Dutch-based Organon BioSciences, NuvaRing was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, in 2002.
Consumer complaints say the contraceptive ring is responsible for:
- Blood clots in the legs (which can be very dangerous if the clots travel to the lungs)
- Breast cancer
- Clotting in the blood vessels of the eye (which can cause vision problems)
- Gallbladder disease
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
The first complaint alone should have sent Merck et al back to the drawing board. As most adults know, blood clots in the legs, technically known as deep vein thrombosis, can break away and travel to the lungs, causing extreme shortness of breath because the body is deprived of oxygen. The blockage can also cause the blood to retain carbon dioxide. Finally, if the clot is big enough, it can block blood flow from the right side of the heart to the lungs, causing immediate death.
In light of that, the other hazards mentioned above seem mild. Breast cancer has become more amenable to treatment. Even heart attack damage can be minimized via the application of pharmaceuticals and surgical or therapeutic intervention. And the typical side effects of NuvaRing – headaches, nausea, vaginal infections and weight gain – are just a walk in the park.
Mirena is another intrauterine contraceptive device, or IUD, given extensive media coverage and high praise (mostly from its maker, Bayer Pharmaceutical, which has more money than God).
Bayer advertises Mirena as “an effective, long-acting and completely reversible method of birth control that uses levonorgestrel (a form of progestin not to be confused with the natural hormone, progesterone) to prevent pregnancy for up to 5 full years.” The description is Bayer’s, the caveat mine, adapted from opinions by both mainstream medical doctors and holistic practitioners.
Of the more than 33 side effects, including depression, abnormal cervical cancer (Pap) smears, ectopic pregnancies, the sometimes fatal infection known as sepsis, hypertension, and perforation of the cervix or uterus, Mirena can affect breastfed infants by causing a higher-than-normal incidence of neurological defects.
For one woman, Mirena was a nightmare. The device migrated to a fallopian tube, causing excruciating pain, but the hospital she was sent to could not perform a surgery since its surgical suites were filled that day. After suffering well into the next day, she was operated on by a colleague of the doctor who had installed the device.
Either the embedding or the surgery may have made this woman sterile, and she fully intends to initiate a personal injury lawsuit in view of the fact that neither Bayer nor her doctor ever informed her of all the possible risks. In addition, the FDA has received and catalogued more than 47,000 negative user reports. If ever a proposed lawsuit had a head start at winning, it would be this one.