It’s been a great week for women’s health in Europe. Just the other day, I had the pleasure of writing a piece on Bayer pulling Essure from the market in Finland. Today, thanks to a number of readers, I get the joy of writing a similar piece. It has been confirmed by Bayer that the company is withdrawing from the UK market as of September 1, 2017.
Much like the Big Pharma giant’s Finland announcement, Bayer said, “We can confirm that Bayer UK has plans to discontinue the sales and distribution of Essure in the UK from the [sic] September 1, 2017. Bayer UK would like to underline that this decision was taken for commercial reasons and that the favorable benefit-risk profile of Essure, remains unchanged.”
In other words, much as with Finland, poor Bayer just isn’t able to make any money in the UK. Try as I may (not very hard, admittedly), I cannot shed a tear for them.
Of course, Bayer is following the “safe” route. It can’t admit that its “permanent” birth control device:
- Is less effective that traditional tubal ligation surgery;
- Is causing tens of thousands of innocent women horrible (and inexcusable) amounts of suffering; and
- Has even caused death, both of implanted women and the babies that are sometimes born even though the device is in place.
Here, in the U.S., it’s been an uphill battle against the mega-firm. The FDA, supposedly the guardian of our nation’s health, hasn’t got the guts to stand up to Bayer and demand any great action be taken. The Agency made Bayer put a Black Box Warning, detailing some of the risks, on the label. However, as has been pointed out numerous times: that warning is useless if women never get to see the label and they usually don’t get to see it.
Nor are doctors being properly educated on the risks of the product. The main source of information they get is from Bayer itself, along with the offer of pricey medical equipment for the purchase of two Essure kits per month. Not all doctors fall for this trick, thankfully. Dr. Julio Novoa is an amazing champion of women’s health, working to get this vile device removed from the market. He’s even working to educate his peers.
Legislators have proposed bills that would remove Essure from the market, but to date, they haven’t been signed into law. With our current Congress and administration, I’m not all that confident that those bills will become law. However, I hold out some hope.
On other fronts, through tireless efforts by the E-Sisters and their attorneys, litigation has finally been allowed to proceed. These suits, if successful, would hold Bayer accountable for all the harm caused by Essure. It’s definitely a step in the right direction and, quite possibly, the only way to force Bayer to take the product off the market in the U.S.
Finland and the UK join the Netherlands in being rid of Essure. In Brazil, Bayer didn’t get to make the decision. On February 20, 2017, Anvisa, the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency, banned the sales and distribution of the Essure device. The reason? Technical and scientific reports, along with the categorization of Essure as a maximum-risk device, convinced them that Essure had to go. Anvisa issued a directive to Comercial Commed Produtos Hospitalares Ltda (Essure’s Brazilian distributor) to get the product off the market.
These international victories, especially the voluntary removal of Essure, can be written off by Bayer as decisions made for “commercial reasons,” but they are victories, nonetheless. And, though I may be wrong, I have a feeling that some intrepid lawyer out there will eventually find a way to connect the voluntary withdrawals and the ban, to the damage that Essure causes.
After all, “commercial reasons” are, at their most basic, financial reasons. Bayer isn’t making money on Essure in these countries and there has to be a reason for that, don’t you think? I believe it’s because the grassroots efforts of the E-Sisters worldwide have made the risks of this product so clear that no one wants it.
It’s my fond hope that the U.S. market for this awful device will wither just as the international markets are doing. Hitting Bayer in its bottom line is really the only way change will be effected. Shrinking markets and pending litigation are two ways of accomplishing that goal.