Women in the United Kingdom who have reported harm from using Bayer’s Essure contraceptive device have received approval to pursue legal action against the pharmaceutical company. This development marks a significant step in addressing the concerns of approximately 200 women who have claimed to experience adverse effects such as pain, chronic bleeding, and other health issues after using Essure. The device, introduced in the early 2000s, was designed as a non-surgical, permanent birth control method.
Essure consists of a coil-like device implanted in the fallopian tubes to induce scarring, blocking the passage of eggs to the uterus and preventing contact with sperm. The legal complaints assert that some women encountered complications during implantation, including pierced fallopian tubes, and that the device’s metal components could become dislodged and migrate to other parts of the body. Several women have reported undergoing hysterectomies and experiencing nickel poisoning as a result of using Essure.
Throughout this legal process, Bayer has consistently defended the safety of the Essure device. The company has cited the comprehensive scientific evidence that was used to obtain regulatory approvals and has highlighted the many thousands of women still relying on Essure for contraception today.
The negative publicity surrounding Essure reached its peak when Bayer withdrew the device from the market in 2018. This decision coincided with the release of a Netflix documentary that alleged “lax practices and cover-ups” in the medical device industry and extensively covered the Essure controversy. Subsequently, Bayer agreed to a $1.6 billion settlement in the United States to resolve approximately 90% of the then-39,000 claims related to Essure. It is important to note that Bayer did not admit any liability or wrongdoing in this settlement.
Meanwhile, legal proceedings in the United Kingdom commenced around the same time, and Bayer has also faced lawsuits in other countries, including Australia and the Netherlands, with plaintiff numbers reaching around 1,700 and 1,000, respectively.
In response to these developments, Bayer has issued a statement emphasizing its commitment to product safety and expressing sympathy for anyone who has encountered health problems while using its products, regardless of the cause. The company has reiterated its unwavering support for the safety and effectiveness of Essure and vowed to vigorously defend itself against the claims made by the affected women.