Plaintiffs in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) against Teva Pharmaceuticals and The Cooper Companies will be moving forward after overcoming a motion to dismiss. The lawsuits allege that Teva and Cooper’s non-hormonal intrauterine device (IUD), Paragard, was defective and caused serious side effects.
The Paragard IUD is a one-inch copper-wrapped, T-shaped plastic device that is inserted into the uterus. The copper in the device prevents pregnancy through a variety of prefertilization effects. These effects include:
- Destroying the ovum
- Inducing a sterile inflammatory response in the endometrium lining the uterus
- Producing an inflammatory reaction that is toxic to sperm and eggs
- Preventing sperm movement, viability, and maturation
Paragard was sold as a non-hormonal birth control device. Without hormones, Paragard marketing could claim that it would not cause the mood destabilization or endocrine side effects that other hormone-based birth control methods may cause.
Unfortunately, as plaintiffs allege, the device had defects that could be dangerous to consumers. Some defects include breakages and perforations of the uterine wall that can cause severe side effects. Some of the side effects reported include:
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Life-threatening infection
- Septic abortion
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Infection or inflammation of the uterine lining
- Attachment to the uterine wall, which may require surgical removal
- Perforation or puncturing the wall of the uterus or cervix
There are also some adverse reactions after placement or removal, such as dizziness, slowed heart rate or seizures.
Teva Pharmaceuticals and The Cooper Company dispute these claims and filed a motion to dismiss the MDL. The defendants claim that the plaintiffs “failed to state a claim for defective design or manufacture or failure to warn,” according to a press release from plaintiff co-counsel Fibich, Leebron, Copeland & Briggs.
However, on November 30, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Georgia, Leigh Martin May, denied the motion to dismiss and instead found “factual underpinnings for the design defect claims and detailed allegations about the defendants’ failure to warn” that made it necessary for the discovery process to begin.
Now that the MDL has survived to the discovery phase, plaintiffs will be able to request documents from Teva and Cooper, to which the companies currently have exclusive access.