NuvaRing Litigation Consolidated in Missouri

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 The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation granted a petition to consolidate pending federal NuvaRing lawsuits in the Eastern District of Missouri for pretrial litigation.

The petition was filed by plaintiffs who have filed product liability lawsuits alleging that the use of NuvaRing contraceptives caused serious and sometimes fatal injuries. The NuvaRing lawsuits have been filed against Organon Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Organon USA Inc., Organon International Inc., Schering Plough Corp., and Akzo Nobel NV.

NuvaRing is a once-a-month combined contraceptive vaginal ring, comprising ethinyl estradiol (EE) as its estrogen hormone component and etonogestrel as its progestogen hormone component. The FDA approved the birth control drug in October 2001.

A number of side effects have been associated with the use of the NuvaRing, including an increased risk of blood clots potentially leading to injuries such as a pulmonary embolism (PE), deep vein thrombosis (DVT), ischemic stroke or myocardial infarction (MI).

The petition to consolidate the NuveRing litigation before one judge was filed on April 22, 2008. Plaintiff’s argued that centralization under a federal procedure known as Multidistrict Litigation (MDL), was appropriate given the common issues of law and fact in all of the NuvaRing lawsuits that have been filed in various federal courts.

The defendants opposed consolidation, arguing that the different medical histories and injuries for each plaintiff ruled out commonality of claims.

In an August 22, 2008 order, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation announced that they had determined that centralization was appropriate in the NuvaRing litigation, and all lawsuits filed alleging injuries from the NuvaRing birth control will be transferred to Judge Rodney W. Sippel, in the Eastern District of Missouri.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is vested with the power to consolidate similar pending lawsuits which are filed in multiple districts and transfer the cases to a single judge in a single jurisdiction. Through this federal procedure, complex cases involving common questions of fact are handled together for pretrial litigation. However, each lawsuit does remain an individual case, and if the litigation is not resolved during pretrial proceedings, each case will be remanded back to the court where they were originally filed for trial.

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