Recalls: Words of Warning About an I.U.D.

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AN IMPORTANT HEALTH WARNING TO WOMEN USING AN I.U.D., proclaim the austere but imposing ads currently appearing in newspapers and magazines. The $4 million media blitz by the pharmaceutical maker A.H. Robins of Richmond represents one of the most extensive product-warning campaigns in history. The company is attempting to alert women in the U.S. who are still using the Dalkon Shield intrauterine birth control device. Produced from 1970 to 1974, the I.U.D.s have been blamed for thousands of cases of severe pelvic infections, sterility and other maladies. By last week at least 400 women had followed the ad's advice by going to their doctors to have the shield removed, and 11,000 have called Robins for more information. The company has offered to pay the bill for removal of the I.U.D. or an exam to determine whether a woman is using a shield.

Robins earned profits of only $500,000 on the 4.5 million Dalkon Shields sold worldwide. Nonetheless, that part of its business grew into a legal nightmare of some 10,000 personal-injury lawsuits. So far Robins and its insurance company, Aetna Life & Casualty, have settled about 7,600 of the cases at a cost of $245 million. Last week the company reached an agreement on 198 suits for a reported $38 million.