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Motion to Centralize Essure Birth Control Cases Withdrawn

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Plaintiffs who filed a request last month with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, seeking to consolidate and centralize all Essure birth control lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, have withdrawn the motion, meaning that cases pending in U.S. District Courts nationwide will continue without coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Essure birth control is a medical device designed to provide permanent sterilization, involving placement of coils that cause scar tissue to form and block a woman’s tubes.

Although the device has been marketed as a safe and effective means of preventing pregnancy, thousands of women have surfaced in recent years on Facebook, Twitter and other websites describing painful Essure problems, where the coils migrated, perforated the uterus, caused severe allergic reactions, infections, abdominal pain and other complications.

In a motion to transfer filed on July 22, some plaintiffs called for the establishment of a federal Essure MDL, or multidistrict litigation, since each of the claims raise similar allegations that Bayer sold an unreasonably dangerous device and failed to provide adequate warnings for women or the medical community.

At the time, Bayer faced at least 30 product liability lawsuits over Essure, which were filed on behalf of more than 1,000 plaintiffs spread across five different federal districts. As Essure injury lawyers continue to review cases, it is expected that the size of the litigation will continue to grow over the coming months and years.

On August 11, the JPML issued a notice of hearing session (PDF), indicating that oral arguments for the Essure cases would be heard on September 29. However, on August 12, the U.S. JPML issued an order deeming motion withdrawn (PDF), indicating that plaintiffs have withdrawn their petition. The judges also vacated the September 29 oral arguments.

Previously, plaintiffs indicated that consolidation of the cases was necessary to prevent duplicative discovery and conflicting rulings by different judges, suggesting that Essure birth control cases pending throughout the federal court system be transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for coordinated handling before U.S. District Judge Gerald McHugh. It is unclear at this time why the motion was withdrawn, and whether the request will be refiled.

Last year, the FDA held advisory panel meetings to review the safety of Essure. After considering recommendations from the panel of outside experts, the agency announced in late February 2016 that much stronger Essure warnings will be required to make sure doctors and women are informed of the potential risks. Bayer has also been ordered to conduct additional studies to better understand the safety of the implant, raising questions about why the manufacturer failed to take these steps years ago after receiving complaints.

An estimated 750,000 women worldwide have undergone Essure sterilization procedures since the device was introduced in 2002. Bayer purchased the Essure product from the original developer, Conceptus, for about $1.1 billion in 2013.

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