Women's Health | The American Association For Justice Archive

Women's Health

Throughout modern history, women have suffered disproportionately from the effects of dangerous and defective drugs and medical devices. Women take more medications than men, respond differently to them, and are more likely to suffer adverse drug events. 

When it comes to women’s health, the civil justice system plays a key role many people may not know about. Access to the civil justice system has made women’s health care safer. Many defective products and healthcare practices were improved only after women and their families sought justice in court.

Women, like all patients, face a number of barriers to justice. Because of the Riegel v. Medtronic (2008) and PLIVA, Inc. v. Mensing (2011) rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, women injured or killed by dangerous drugs and medical devices may not be able to hold these manufacturers accountable. 

Women were historically excluded from Phase 1 clinical trials, rendering many gender-specific risks unknown. Though this policy was changed in 1993, women remain consistently underrepresented in drug and medical device evaluations. Reckless corporations have long taken advantage of this situation. Drugs and medical devices marketed specifically for women have long skirted the edge of responsible medicine. 

In fact, a number of women specific health products have long been both a multi-billion dollar industry and a litany of incidences of corporate neglect and serious health risks. For years, manufacturers have put thoughts of health concerns to one side as they marketed their products. Corporations have consistently rushed products to market with little study, or worse, concealed known issues for the sake of profits. Even when dangers become public knowledge, companies frequently continue to market them and play down the dangers, anticipating that any repercussions down the road will be more than justified by a continuing stream of profits. 

The civil justice system has played an invaluable role in keeping corporate misconduct in check when corporations and regulators have proven unwilling or unable to protect the health of women. In almost every case profit led here, the reports of death and serious injury have not forced manufacturers to take their dangerous products off the market; the civil justice system has. It is critical to the health of all Americans – not just women – that the ability to hold pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers accountable when their products cause harm be restored.

The Facts

  • Because of a 2011 Supreme Court ruling, women who are injured or killed by the generic versions of a drug ware unable to hold manufacturers accountable. 
  • NuvaRing, a product still on the market, doubles a woman’s likelihood of blood clots and heart attacks.  
  • There are over 40 reports of death from women using NuvaRing, but the manufacturer has chosen to keep the product on the shelves. 
  • The FDA reported that at least 50 women had been killed from taking the Yasmin/Yaz contraceptives.  
  • By 2013, over 100 women who had used Yasmin/Yaz died, and over 13,000 more had suffered injuries, including blood clots.