By Tom Lebert
Pharmaceutical company Bayer announced on July 20, 2018 that a controversial device for permanent birth control, Essure, will be taken off the market amid reports of injury and death. The device was taken off the market in England, Canada, and France, among other countries, but has still been sold in the United States despite concerns.
A campaign against the device has resulted in rapidly declining sales due to worry among consumers after reports that it caused harm became public in 2013. A Netflix documentary titled “The Bleeding Edge” was released about the dangers of Essure and other medical devices, and multiple organizations have fought to expose the dangers of the product.
The FDA has also recently expressed concerns about the product, requiring labelling of potential harms in 2016 and requiring Bayer to reduce sales to doctor’s offices in April 2018. The FDA approved the usage of the device in 2002.
The device is now the subject of more than 16,000 lawsuits, as reported by Bloomberg.
One week later, on July 27, CNN released an exclusive report finding that Bayer had paid $2.5 million to 11,850 doctors for “consulting fees and similar services” related to Essure. While the payments are legal, they’re sure to anger activists who claim the device leads to injury and death.
The payments reported on by CNN occurred from August 2013 until December of 2017, during the peak of campaigns against the product. A professor at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Dr. Martin Makary, said, “That looks like a bribe. That looks like gaming the system. That looks like the pharma company is paying off doctors.”
Lawsuits are still being filed and some are being consolidated in order to provide justice for the thousands of women affected by the product.