Hundreds of women were left with chronic pain and bleeding after having contraceptive devices known as Essure contraceptive coils implanted, some of whom suffered so much that they required a hysterectomy to have it removed. And now they’ve brought forward a class action against its maker.
Lee-Anne Daffy told ABC News she suffered constant uterine pain and bleeding after the coils were inserted into her fallopian tubes. They work by causing chronic scarring and inflammation which blocks sperm from entering the tubes and meeting an ova.
Her doctors couldn’t work out what the problem was, and during a surgery to investigate the cause, she suffered a cardiac arrest on the operating table.
“It was a really difficult time,” she said, per ABC.
“My youngest had her second birthday while I was in hospital. When I came home, she just wouldn’t come to me.
“She had to learn to trust me again because I’d been away for so long and she didn’t know who I was. It was heartbreaking.”
Liberali, a self employed cleaner, described her symptoms to 9News as “a sharp stabbing, knife in the stomach type of pain”.
Another woman, Susanne, suffered symptoms from the contraceptive that were so severe she could no longer work. She said she would wake up “in a sea of blood”.
Both she and Lee-Anne had hysterectomies — a surgical removal of the uterus — eight years after the coils were implanted, and hundreds of other Aussie women have done the same to remove the device.
Now, more than 1,000 Australian women have brought a class action against Bayer, the manufacturer of the contraceptive, alleging that it was poorly designed and not tested enough regarding long term safety.
“The kinds of stories we hear from women are pretty horrific, but also very consistent,” Kylie Trounson, the lawyer who is representing the women, said per ABC.
“Chronic and quite severe pelvic pain, and also very heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding, which impacts their lives profoundly. Some women have told us that they couldn’t walk their children to school, because they’d have to run home and change their clothes.”
Bayer, however, vigorously denies the allegations and claims the device is safe and was tested extensively.
“Bayer stands behind the safety and efficacy of Essure which is supported by an extensive body of research (including 10 clinical trials and over 70 real-world observational studies), undertaken by Bayer and independent medical researchers, involving more than 270,000 women over the past two decades,” a spokesperson told ABC.
It’s not the first time Bayer has made headlines regarding concern about its contraceptives.
Remember the birth control pill Yasmine and its sister drug Yaz? As of 2013, there were at least 23 deaths linked to using Yaz and Yasmin, and according to Drug Watch, roughly 20,000 women have been injured after taking the pills, either via blood clots, gallbladder problems, heart attacks or strokes. These pills were produced by Bayer.
In 2020, Bayer was taken to court over its Essure coil contraceptives by women who had the same serious health complications. It agreed to pay $USD1.6 billion in a settlement, but has stated it will not settle in its Australian court case.
The company says it paid the settlement because of the American legal system and the expenses associated with litigation, and maintains it “did not include any admission of wrongdoing or liability by Bayer”.
The trial, which will not have a jury, is expected to run for 12 weeks.