Australian women to launch class action against birth control manufacturer
Australian women are joining forces to launch a class action legal case against the makers of birth control implant Essure.
Dozens of women have contacted law firm Slater and Gordon after experiencing serious complications from the metal coil device, which is implanted in the fallopian tubes.
The class action follows similar lawsuits in the United States, Canada and Scotland.
The device had been known to corrode inside women, leading to nickel poisoning, Slater and Gordon Associate Ebony Birchall said.
Other serious side-effects include the device migrating, perforating the uterus or leading to unplanned pregnancies.
Essure’s manufacturer Bayer pulled the product from sale in Australia in May last year for “commercial reasons”. Three months later the Therapeutic Goods Administration issued a hazard alert about the product.
“Essure was hailed as the new wave of contraceptive devices. Unlike traditional permanent contraceptive surgery, Essure was marketed as being fast, effective, and minimally invasive, it could be inserted in your doctor’s office,” Ms Birchall said.
“However for the women who have experienced complications it has been incredibly damaging. It has literally turned their lives upside down.
“For most women the only solution has been to have a complete hysterectomy,” she said.
Ms Birchall said it was likely many Australian women had not connected their debilitating symptoms to the device.
Mother-of-four Tanya Davidson had the device inserted in 2010, soon after it came on the market in Australia.
Ms Davidson, from Swan Hill in north west Victoria, said when she first decided to have the device implanted it seemed like the best option.
“As a busy working mum I couldn’t afford to take time off, so the fact that the procedure was non-invasive and I didn’t have to take time off to recover from surgery was appealing. Instead it has been eight years of hell,” she said.
But after the device was implanted, Ms Davidson began to notice severe side effects including hair loss, severe menstrual bleeding, chronic fatigue, gastric issues, stabbing ovarian pain and loss of cognitive function.
After years of being ignored by doctors, Ms Davidson was eventually diagnosed with a nickel allergy.
The implant was removed in 2016, but parts of it broke, meaning she ended up needing to have a full hysterectomy.
Ms Davidson said she still suffers from side-effects.
“Some days I just feel like I can’t get out of bed, but as a mum I don’t have a choice,” she said.
“For years doctors told me that the symptoms were in my head and that they couldn’t be related to the device.”
“I know there must be other women out there who are in the same boat and I want them to know they are not alone.”