Health Canada reviewing safety concerns of controversial Essure birth control implant
Published Sunday, May 1, 2016 10:03PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, May 1, 2016 11:37PM EDT
Health Canada is drafting a safety review into the much-debated Essure birth control device, a spring-like implant placed in the fallopian tubes that has led to thousands of medical complaints in the decade since its release.
The birth control device is often billed as the only permanent, non-surgical method of birth control for women. It works by blocking sperm from reaching a woman’s eggs with a thin, metal coil.
At least 750,000 women across North America have received the Essure implant since 2002. But the tiny device has triggered thousands of complaints across the U.S. and Canada, with women saying they suffered serious pain, bleeding and allergic reactions after getting Essure.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ordered “black box” warnings on Essure to warn consumers of possible risks. Health Canada has also studied the device and its report, set to be released this spring, could lead to similar labelling practices in Canada.
In one case, a 26-year-old Barrie, Ont. woman had to undergo a hysterectomy due to painful side effects after getting Essure.
“I had joint pain. I had bleeding. I bled the whole entire time, the whole time the product was in me,” Marlee Scott told CTV News.
Scott, a mother of four children, said she considered getting her tubes tied after her last pregnancy but was attracted to the non-surgical nature of Essure.
Scott is now part of a possible class-action lawsuit that has been started against Bayer, the German manufacturer behind Essure. She says she isn’t involved for money or attention, but rather to warn other women about the possible risks involved.
“I want to people to know that the product isn’t any good. And they should not do it,” she said.
Complaints about Essure have been shared online through a Facebook group with nearly 30,000 members. The “Essure Problems” page is a sounding board for women to swap personal stories and concerns about the implant.
In a statement, Bayer said that patient safety is the company’s “top priority.”
"Essure is a highly effective permanent contraception option with a positive safety profile,” the statement says.
When asked about the lawsuit, the company said that it doesn’t comment on active litigation “as a matter of policy.”
Lawyer Tony Merchant, whoseMerchant Law Group launched the litigation, says 120 women have contacted his office regarding Essure. He says he expects more to come forward.
“We think it’s thousands of people who will be coming forward who have the product in them and are at risk, and who have the product no longer in them and unfortunately have had the solution which is, in almost every instance, a hysterectomy,” Merchant said.
With a report from CTV medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip