i.2.nuvaring-death-scandal-prIt appears Live Action isn’t the only organization nailing Planned Parenthood in undercover investigations.

Add none other than Vanity Fair to the list.

I’m late reading a 10,000 word exposé in the magazine’s January issue on the dangers of a hormonal birth control device called NuvaRing.

The article is scathing, heartbreaking, and maddening. It is hard to fathom how birth control rings could still be on the market, when the FDA concluded back in 2011 they increase the risk of blood clots, known as venous thromboembolism, by 56%, and “carry a 90% greater risk of VTE than birth-control pills with earlier forms of progestin,” according to the article. (NuvaRing uses a third generation progestin called desogestrel.) It is here Vanity Fair’s sting against Planned Parenthood comes in. From the piece:

What were young women being told by their doctors? As part of my reporting, I asked two college students to go to clinics in New York, inquire about using NuvaRing, and detail their families’ histories of heart issues.

Planned Parenthood, with its distribution centers all over the country, has been a target sales market for NuvaRing. At a clinic it operates in Brooklyn, one student mentioned to the attending nurse practitioner that she had Googled NuvaRing and was aware of the lawsuits alleging that it can cause blood clots. “I have a history of heart disease and diabetes in my family,” she said. “You yourself have a history of heart disease?” the nurse practitioner asked. “No, but my father has it. And my mother has type 2 diabetes.”

Both facts were indicators of potential problems, but the nurse practitioner did not seem to be alarmed. “Then no. NuvaRing is safe for healthy young women…. Of course, with all birth-control methods, there are side effects…. new yo [sic] You seem a good candidate. Would you like to try it?” (Planned Parenthood, asked to comment, responded that the federation “does not publicly discuss private patient matters.”)

By the direct quotes provided, it is clear the Vanity Fair investigator either audiotaped or videotaped her office visit. Plus, the author would not have relayed that conversation if she did not have corroboration.

Meanwhile, according to Planned Parenthood, NuvaRing is awesome.

AR_140219615One problem with NuvaRing is its potential to dispense spikes of hormones. NuvaRing has never been tested outside a temperature range of 68-77 degrees.

A lawsuit has been filed by the parents of Erika Langhart, pictured right, who died at age 24 on Thanksgiving Day 2011 of a massive pulmonary embolism. She was using the NuvaRing. Named in the lawsuit are the drug’s manufacturer, Merck, and…

… the McKesson Corporation, the largest distributor of prescription drugs in North America. According to the plaintiffs’ claim, McKesson, based in San Francisco, would have to show that its delivery systems of cargo trucks and planes had kept the NuvaRing temperature-controlled.

It would seem to me, as a “target sales market for NuvaRing,” Planned Parenthood may eventually have to answer this question as well.

And also answer for the fact it apparently isn’t properly screening candidates for NuvaRing.

2014-03-03_1406On February 14, Langart’s parents condemned a $100 million dollar settlement offered by Merck on the heels of the Vanity Fair article to resolve 3,800 lawsuits. According to the agreement, 95% of plaintiffs must agree to Merck’s terms, which includes the stipulation it does not have to accept any blame.

Even if 95% agree, the remaining 5% can still sue. Langhart’s parents will be in that group. “We would rather, quite frankly, die than take blood money from Merck,” wrote Karen Langhart.

Money quote from the Vanity Fair article, by lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Hunter Shkolnik. Upon hearing an odious deposition by the original maker of NuvaRing, he told the author:

“I called my daughters and said, ‘Do not ever use any third- or fourth-generation birth control. It could kill you.’”

Here are cliff notes on the Vanity Fair article, fyi.

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