CooperSurgical Faces More IVF Lawsuits Over Recalled LifeGlobal Embryo Culture Media

Couples indicate they have had to undergo additional rounds of egg retrieval after developing embryos were damaged and destroyed by the recalled culture media.

CooperSurgical continues to face a growing number of IVF lawsuits, following the discovery that the company’s LifeGlobal embryo culture media may destroy fertilized eggs, instead of preserving them.

During in vitro fertilization (IVF), health care professionals remove a woman’s eggs and fertilize them with sperm. The eggs are then placed in an embryo culture medium, which is intended to promote their growth to the blastocyst stage, before being implanted back into the woman’s uterus to be carried to term.

The litigation emerged late last year, when a CooperSurgical IVE embryo LifeGlobal global culture media recall (PDF) was announced in a field safety notice issued sent to medical providers and distributors on December 5, 2023. However, couples impacted were not directly notified and many are just now learning that problems with the IVF culture media may be responsible for their lost embryos.

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So far this month, at least three new lawsuits have been brought in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, each raising nearly identical allegations and claims, indicating that CooperSurgical knew or should have known about the risk that the recalled culture media may impair development and make the embryos unusable. However, rather than warning the healthcare community or patients, the company allowed families to continue undergoing the costly process.

In one complaint (PDF) filed on June 11, an Oregon couple indicates that they decided to undergo in vitro fertilization in 2023, with egg retrieval in early December. Six of the nine eggs extracted developed into blastocysts, but later that month the couple was informed that the embryos had been rendered unusable by the LifeGlobal embryo culture media, now requiring the couple to undergo another round of IVF because of the damage.

The next day, a similar complaint (PDF) was filed by a Florida couple, who underwent egg retrieval in November 2023, and the embryos were also placed in the defective culture media. The couple was then notified in late January that their developing embryos had been affected by the recalled culture media.

“Defendants manufactured, marketed, promoted, distributed, and/or sold media that was intended to protect and nourish Plaintiffs’ reproductive material and encourage development into healthy embryos,” the couple’s lawsuit states. “On December 5, 2023, only after Plaintiffs’ eggs were placed in Defendants’ embryo culture media, Defendants issued a recall of three lots of media stating that it does the opposite of its intended use, creating a ‘risk to health’ due to ‘impaired embryo development prior to the blastocyst stage’.”

The third complaint (PDF) was filed on June 13 by a Massachusetts couple, which underwent egg retrieval in November 2023, only to learn that the two viable embryos preserved at the end of January were also placed in the recalled culture media and damaged.

All of the lawsuits name The Cooper Companies and CooperSurgical, Inc. as defendants, presenting claims for damages under theories of strict products liability involving manufacturing defect, design defect and failure to warn, as well as negligence, gross negligence, negligent failure to recall, trespass to chattels, and unjust enrichment.

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