Merck to settle NuvaRing lawsuits for $100 mln -media report

Thu Feb 6, 2014 6:10pm EST

Feb 6 (Reuters) - Merck & Co has agreed to pay $100 million to settle hundreds of lawsuits accusing the U.S. drugmaker of downplaying serious health risks associated with its NuvaRing contraceptive device, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the deal.

The agreement, which would settle cases in federal and state courts, will be announced on Friday and pay about $58,000 per complaint, according to the report.

Merck is facing more than 1,700 lawsuits accusing it of failing to adequately warn NuvaRing users or downplaying a potential increased risk of developing dangerous blood clots known as venous thromboembolism, according to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Plaintiffs are seeking damages for a range of injuries allegedly caused by the birth control device, including heart attack, stroke and sudden death.

A judge presiding over federal cases, which have been consolidated in Missouri federal court, has scheduled a hearing on the matter for Friday morning.

NuvaRing has been available to women in the United States since 2001. It is one of several contraceptive products that have been linked to an increased risk of developing blood clots that can cause strokes and heart attacks.

Should the $100 million figure prove to be accurate, Merck would pay a fraction of what at least one company has paid in similar settlements. German drugmaker Bayer AG last year said it had so far paid nearly $1.6 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits involving accusations that its Yaz and Yazmin birth control pills caused blood clots that led to strokes and heart attacks.

Merck spokeswoman Lainie Keller declined to comment on the Bloomberg report.

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