As a pharmaceutical liability attorney, I have closely followed the series of Yaz and Yasmin (drospirenone) lawsuits filed around the country. These are lawsuits against the pharmaceutical company Bayer, alleging that its next-generation birth control pills carry a substantially increased risk of death or injury from blood clots. According to news reports, Bayer has set aside millions to cover settlements of the thousands of Yasmin and Yaz lawsuits—but just as these are beginning to look settled, a new series of lawsuits about a different Bayer birth control product is on the rise. These lawsuits concern the Mirena interuterine device (IUD), a type of birth control implanted inside the patient’s body, where it allegedly cases several serious side effects, including perforation of the uterus, embedment in the uterus, infection, ectobic (tubal) pregnancy and in serious cases, infertility.
An IUD is a small T-shaped device that doctors believe prevents pregnancy by activating the woman’s immune system to repel any foreign invaders, including sperm cells. The Mirena IUD also releases hormones similar to those in a type of birth control pill called the “minipill,” providing added protection. IUDs were not popular until recently, due in part to a national scandal in the 1970s related to a defectively designed IUD called the Dalkon Shield. However, a recent article from USA Today says IUDs are making a comeback, with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommending them for both teens and adults. Women appreciate the devices because they don’t have to remember a pill every day.
However, Mirena injury lawsuits against Bayer are on the rise—so much that in August, Bayer asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to consolidate the sixteen then-pending cases in one state court. Notably, the company said it expected additional lawsuits in New Jersey, its U.S. home state. More lawsuits are pending in at least six states, including Missouri. The dangerous complications of Mirena these lawsuits allege include perforation (cutting) of the uterus, implantation in the uterus, or the development of scar tissue or erosion of the organs. In addition to being painful and requiring surgery to correct, this can cause infertility by preventing the release of eggs into the uterus, or—ironically—pregnancy when the device is unable to do its job. Another risk is ectopic pregnancy, in which a fertilized egg implants into the Fallopian tubes instead of the uterus; such a pregnancy is life-threatening and cannot be carried to term. And those pregnancies that do take place have a higher risk of birth defects.
Our defective medical device lawyers will be closely watching these lawsuits as they progress through the court system. Though New Jersey is Bayer’s home state in the U.S. (it’s a German company), Mirena is a product sold nationally, so plaintiffs affected by the device likely live across the United States. That means the claims may ultimately be consolidated in federal court as well as, or instead of, New Jersey state court. Interestingly, Bayer has been penalized by the FDA for misleading marketing of Mirena, overstating benefits and minimizing risks—the same kind of misleading marketing alleged in Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits. As a defective drug attorney, I suspect we’ll see similar claims in the Mirena lawsuits.
Based in St. Louis, Carey, Danis & Lowe represents clients across the United States who have been hurt by a defective medical device or a defective drug. If you or someone you love has been hurt by a medical intervention you thought you could trust, call us today for a free consultation. You can reach us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400 or send us a message online.
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