Women's Journal

The Essure Device: Women Seek Legal Action for Permanent Contraception Complications

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Hundreds of women in the UK who experienced pain and complications after having the Essure permanent contraception device implanted now have the opportunity to take legal action against its manufacturer. The women claim that the device has caused them irreparable physical and mental damage. German manufacturer Bayer defends the safety of Essure, which was withdrawn from sale in 2017. Despite the claims made by these women, the UK medicines regulator states that there is no risk to safety.

The Essure device, launched in 2002, is a small metal coil inserted into a woman’s fallopian tubes. It is designed to create scar tissue around the coil, forming a barrier that blocks the tubes and prevents sperm from reaching the eggs. Marketed as a simpler alternative to surgical sterilization, some women who opted for this device have reported constant pain, heavy bleeding, and other complications. In severe cases, some women have required hysterectomies or removal of the device altogether.

Women’s Experiences: Physical and Mental Damage

Deborah Chalk, aged 39, had the Essure device fitted after the birth of her third child. Soon after the procedure, she began experiencing a range of health issues. Headaches, abdominal pain, heavy bleeding, rashes, extreme itching, and mood changes became a part of her daily life. At one point, she woke up with a numb face, leading neurologists to suspect multiple sclerosis. However, it was only when she had a CT scan and the doctor mentioned the presence of the device that she considered it as a potential cause for her health issues. Deborah opted to have the device privately removed as part of a hysterectomy, and experienced immediate relief. Her mood improved, and she no longer faced any health issues.

Bayer, the manufacturer of Essure, states that the safety profile and efficacy of the device remain strong. The company claims that the device underwent extensive testing in ten clinical trials and over 70 real-world observational studies involving thousands of women. While acknowledging that all birth control methods carry risks, Bayer believes that the overall benefit-risk profile of Essure is positive. The company expressed sympathy for those who experienced health problems but maintains that it will vigorously defend itself against the claims made by the women seeking legal action.

Law firm Pogust Goodhead represents the 200 women in the UK who have initiated legal action against Bayer. Lisa Lunt, head of medical-product claims at the firm, points out that thousands of women worldwide have been fitted with the Essure device, many of whom have suffered adverse effects. The hope is that Bayer will agree to compensate the affected women for the pain and suffering they have endured unnecessarily.

Bayer is facing legal action in multiple countries regarding the Essure device. In the United States alone, the company has paid out over $1.6 billion to settle claims from nearly 39,000 women. However, Bayer does not admit any wrongdoing or liability. The US Food and Drug Administration advises that women successfully using the device should continue to do so.:

The Essure device, once hailed as a simpler alternative to surgical sterilization, has come under scrutiny due to the reported pain and complications experienced by some women who chose this form of permanent contraception. While the UK medicines regulator maintains that there is no safety risk associated with Essure, women who claim to have suffered physical and mental damage are seeking legal action against Bayer, the manufacturer. The outcome of this legal battle will shed light on the validity of these claims and potentially impact the future use of Essure as a contraceptive option.

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