Merck & Co, Inc., known less formally in the United States as Merck, is the United States’ second-largest drug company. Established within the United States in 1891, Merck currently has sales close to $45 billion annually and produces a number of popular products including prescription medications such as Fosamax and NuvaRing, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer and animal health products.
Merck employs an estimated 70,000 workers worldwide. Located in Kenilworth, New Jersey, Merck has business interests in pharmaceuticals, animal health, and vaccines. Merck’s estimated annual revenue is more than $42.2 billion with the lion share of revenues generated within the United States.
Merck is currently focused on finding solutions to help persons around the globe improve their well-being and health. They are doing this through research and development for issues related to the heart and respiratory system, infectious diseases, and the study of other conditions such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer. Merck is also continuing their efforts to study biologics as well as vaccines.
The NuvaRing, the first and only vaginal ring, is a flexible ring insertion which is inserted into the vaginal canal one time per month and kept in place for three week. After three weeks it is removed and another ring is inserted a week later. Many women love the NuvaRing because, unlike standard birth control pills, women no longer have to remember to take a pill every day.The NuvaRing, which was first introduced in 2002, has been prescribed over 5.5 million times, generating sales over $623 million. Users have flocked to this innovative contraceptive device due to its effectiveness and convenience. Unfortunately, many women have suffered dangerous side-effects from its use.
The NuvaRing is not the first popular product produced by Merck. Merck has also had success marketing and manufacturing some of the most popular vaccines, including those for mumps, rubella, and Heptits B. Merck also developed the first statin, called lovastatin, several different types of antibiotics, and Vioxx, for the treatment of arthritis. NuvaRing is also not the first Merck medication or product to come under fire for dangerous side-effects. Merck has also battled lawsuits from Vioxx users who claim the product increased the risk of cardiovascular issues. In 2013, Merck also paid an estimated $27.7 million to 1,200 plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit for injuries suffered by Fosamax users, one of Merck’s most popular osteoporosis medications.
In 1668, Jacob Friedrich Merck purchased a drugstore in Germany. This store eventually expanded to include a chemical and pharmaceutical factory. Later a subsidiary or foreign arm of the company was established in the United States under the name Merck & Co., Inc., During World War I the company was confiscated by the government and established as a separate American company. Over the last one hundred years the company has merged with competitors and acquired other companies. They currently employ an estimated 76,000 workers in 120 countries and have 31 factories worldwide, making it one of the world\'s largest pharmaceutical companies.
NuvaRing was first manufactured and approved for use within the U.S. in 2002. First manufactured by a Dutch pharmaceutical manufacturer Organon, the company was later acquired by Merck who then began producing the vaginal contraceptive. Although Merck marketed NuvaRing as a safe alternative to oral contraception reports of dangerous side-effects of its use were soon reported. NuvaRing has been under investigation for potential serious side-effects including blood clots, cerebral thrombosis, retinal thrombosis, cerebral hemorrhage, strokes, heart attacks, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, toxic shock, and wrongful death. Claimants filed suit against Merck, Organon, and Schering-Plough claiming they were inadequately warned about the potential dangers of using the NuvaRing. Claimants have also claimed they have been injured due to inadequate testing of etonogestrel, one of the main ingredients used in the NuvaRing, and that Merck “negligently, recklessly, and carelessly” marketed NuvaRing without adequate instructions or warnings. The lawsuits were later consolidated into a federal Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) located in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. As of 2014, Merck has paid an estimated $100 million to settle over 3,800 lawsuits which were not part of the NuvaRing class action case.
As of August 6, 2014, Merck has updated the Black Box warning for NuvaRing. The warning now contains additional warnings for women who are over 35 years of age and who smoke or who have additional medical conditions including heart disease, blood clotting disorders, diabetes, migraines, pancreatitis, abnormal blood-fat levels, or high blood pressure.