Essure is a metal coil placed inside the fallopian tubes to cause blockage and prevent pregnancies. But thousands of patients across the globe have reported side-effects including excruciating pain, abnormal bleeding and nickel poisoning.
Now, a group of around 200 women have been given the go-ahead by the High Court to proceed with a civil case against German pharmaceutical giant Bayer.
The action has been valued in excess of £10million. The women are being backed by campaigner Jan Faulkner, who has been dubbed “England’s Erin Brockovich” for her years-long battle for justice.
She was fitted with Essure in 2008 but later suffered debilitating symptoms including bladder incontinence and eventually had it removed.
Jan began working with law firm Pogust Goodhead, which is representing the UK women, as a client liaison when she discovered too much time had passed for her to pursue her own case against Bayer.
She said: “I am just as passionate about this case as I have ever been. I spend so much time talking to our clients about their experiences – all of which are so similar to mine – that I just won’t rest until they get justice.”
Lisa Lunt, head of medical product claims at Pogust Goodhead, said: “While the Essure device has been withdrawn from sale in the UK and Bayer have settled claims against them in America, the case continues to be defended in the UK.
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“Our clients have suffered years of pain and complications from a device that ought to have provided them with a safe method of permanent contraception.
“We hope now that the court have agreed that a group litigation order is appropriate in this case, that Bayer agree to compensate our clients for all of their unnecessary pain and suffering.”
In 2020, Bayer agreed to pay £1.2billion to settle the majority of US claims involving the birth-control device. Around 100,000 patients are estimated to have been fitted with an Essure in the UK.
The device was removed from the European market in 2017, a move that Bayer said was a commercial decision and not related to any safety concerns.
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Lawyers said more women could now join the group action and urged any who believe they were harmed to come forward.
Bayer said in a statement that the claims brought in the litigation were “without merit”. The statement added: “Bayer’s highest priority is the safety profile and effectiveness of our products, and we have great sympathy for anyone who has experienced health problems while using any of our products, regardless of cause.
“The company stands by the safety profile and efficacy of Essure and will continue to defend itself from these claims vigorously.”
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