Medroxyprogesterone acetate, better known by its brand name “Depo-Provera”, is a type of contraceptive injection that contains the hormone progestin. In other words, it is a kind of birth control that is administered in the form of a shot. Hence, why it is sometimes referred to as the “Depo shot” or simply, the “birth control shot”.
Unlike the majority of birth control drugs, Depo-Provera does not contain any estrogen. A person who chooses to use this method of birth control must return to their physician every three months for a new injection.
The way it works is by suppressing ovulation, which basically means it prevents your ovaries from releasing an egg. It also causes some other changes to the female reproductive system that offer further protection against fertilization.
It should be noted that Depo-Provera does not protect against sexually transmitted infections, nor is it as effective as standard birth control. Additionally, if you have certain medical conditions, it may not be the right drug for you. Therefore, if you are considering taking Depo-Provera you should talk to a physician first.
What are the Health Risks Associated With Using Depo-Provera?
As with any medication, there are several health and safety risks associated with taking Depo-Provera. For instance, recent medical studies have shown that the drug has been linked to loss of bone mineral density, resulting in an increased risk of osteoporosis. Research has also shown that it may be connected to a serious neurological condition called “pseudotumor cerebri” as well.
Another potential risk, though less common, is that some people have reported severe allergic reactions after receiving the shot. Also, if pregnancy occurs while using Depo-Provera, the chances of an immature birth may be higher.
In addition, it may cause some serious side effects, such as major depression, migraines, and pain near the location of where the shot is distributed into the body, as well as it may decrease in efficiency when used with certain prescription drugs.
Lastly, although studies have been largely inconclusive, there may be a slightly increased risk of breast cancer tied to its usage. Less reliable studies have also shown that there may be symptoms of withdrawal when a patient stops receiving the shot.
What are the Adverse Effects of Depo-Provera?
As briefly mentioned above, there are some severe side effects associated with the drug (e.g., migraines). Aside from the severe side effects, there are also a wide range of more common ones, such as:
- Abdominal pain;
- Weight gain;
- Irregular, heavy, or sudden bleeding;
- Mood changes;
- Hot flashes;
- Decreased libido (i.e., decreased interest in sex);
- Breast tenderness;
- Back aches;
- Rash or skin discoloration;
- Increase or decrease in body and facial hair;
- Hair loss;
- Jaundice; and
- Blood clots.
What Should I Do If I Suffered a Side Effect from Depo-Provera?
Over the past decade, the amount of cases being litigated for injuries stemming from Depo-Provera has steadily increased. Most cases have been filed as products liability lawsuits, with the primary defendant being the company who created the drug, Pfizer. The volume of plaintiffs has caused courts and attorneys to consolidate similar individual claims into class action lawsuits.
Generally speaking, a person can conduct a normal Internet search for whether there are any Depo-Provera class action lawsuits. They may also want to check the website for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Consumer Safety Watch website, and other class action database websites.
Various Depo-Provera class action lawsuits have been initiated for several years. A person does not have to “join” a class action per se, but rather should have received a letter in the mail or an email providing notice of the action. Depending on the type of class action, the individual can either do nothing or may be required to opt out. The instructions will be provided in the letter.
What Can Be Held Liable for Depo-Provera Injury?
Due to legal measures, such as agencies like the FDA and product safety laws, manufacturers, distributors, and resellers of Depo-Provera can all be held liable for injury.
Specifically, according to products liability law, the drug must be safe and contain no defects before being sold to the general public. This means that it has to be tested to see if any serious side effects occur. If the manufacturer or reseller releases a defective and dangerous drug into the marketplace, they can be held legally responsible for any resulting injuries.
Doctors are another potential party who can be held liable, but suits will be based on medical malpractice claims as opposed to products liability. For instance, if the doctor injected the Depo shot in a manner that resulted in harm to the patient, then the patient may be able to sue.
Can I Sue if I Got Pregnant While Using Depo-Provera?
There are limits to what a patient can legally do if they become pregnant while using Depo-Provera. Part of this has to do with the fact that the product is not marketed as being 100% effective. Also, a patient must take a pregnancy test before a doctor can prescribe the shot.
The majority of states recognize some form of the tort known as, “unwanted conception” or “unwanted pregnancy”. However, this cause of action is primarily used in cases where a person gets a procedure to prevent pregnancy (e.g., a vasectomy).
It is much harder to win a case based on this tort when it involves a birth control shot or pills. The amount of damages will also be restricted since the patient may only recover for certain costs in wrongful pregnancy cases.
Depending on the facts, another alternative may be to sue the doctor or clinic distributing the shot for medical malpractice. For instance, if they did not check whether a patient was pregnant before administering the shot or acted in some way that fell below the standard of care for medical professionals, then this type of case may be an option.
A patient may also be able to sue the pharmaceutical company if the drug they took was defective. This means that the plaintiff will have to prove that there was something else wrong with the injection formula that went beyond its normal efficiency rate.
Should I Contact an Attorney for Help with Depo-Provera Legal Issues?
If you have suffered injuries due to a Depo-Provera injection, then you should consider contacting a local personal injury lawyer for further assistance. Your lawyer will be able to determine whether you have a viable claim, or alternatively, if you can join an already existing class action.
Your lawyer will also be able to explain what rights you have as a patient, how the laws in your state can affect the outcome of your case, and the potential remedies you can receive. Additionally, your lawyer can represent you in court or negotiate a settlement on your behalf.