Birth Control Called 'Deadly,' Still Sells Bigtime

NuvaRing known to cause scary blood clots
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2013 5:02 PM CST
NuvaRing.   (

(Newser) – A potentially deadly contraceptive called NuvaRing is still on the US market—but why? That's what Marie Brenner aimed to find out in Vanity Fair. She learned that NuvaRing maker Merck made $623 million selling NuvaRing last year, despite users who developed terrifying blood clots and filed roughly 3,500 lawsuits. Saddest of all is the story of Erika Langhart, who was found writhing on the floor on the Monday before Thanksgiving. "Was your daughter using birth control?" asked a doctor when she was admitted to ER. "I thought so, because she's having a pulmonary embolism."

Langhart died, and the program at her memorial service reads, "Cause of Passing: Massive, Double Pulmonary Embolism—a direct result of the NuvaRing." A Danish study only heightened concerns by analyzing health records of over a million women, and concluding that NuvaRing users were far more likely to get blood clots than women who didn't use hormonal contraceptives. Even NuvaRing admits to a blood-clot problem. So how did NuvaRing get past the FDA? By burying the bad news in one of 500 studies, according to a lawyer who is suing Merck. "When the FDA comes back to the drug company, the drug company can say, 'You had it in your documents,'" he said. "If it isn’t in the 30-page summary, the FDA is so understaffed it will never be noticed." Click for Brenner's full piece. (Read more Merck stories.)

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