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Despite concerns over the risk of complications with intrauterine devices (IUD), such as Mirena and Paragard, an increasing number of women appear to be having the birth control devices implanted.
More than two million U.S. women are believed to be currently using some form of IUD birth control, and earlier this year the FDA approved the first new IUD in 13 years; Bayer’s Skyla. However, the increase in interest in the IUD comes as more and more women step forward to file Mirena IUD lawsuits after experiencing devastating injuries when the small implant punctured their uterus and migrated to other areas of the body.
Ease of use and convenience for women has pushed IUD use in recent years. The IUD benefits from not requiring a daily pill or any action by the woman at all. In some cases, women leave the IUDs in place for years at a time. Some studies suggest that this ease of use contributes to the devices being more effective than the birth control pill. However, they do not protect against STDs like condoms do.
For years, doctors have been hesitant to recommend IUDs for their patients. In March 2012, a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology found that fear of IUD complications prevented many doctors from recommending IUD birth control. Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 30% of all family doctors, OB/GYNs, nurses and other health care professionals surveyed thought IUDs were unsafe for women who had not yet had a child or they were uncertain whether they were safe. The fears have led to 60% deciding to only provide them occasionally, and usually that was only when their patient expressed a preference for the devices.
The latest numbers of IUD use indicate that those reservations appear to be dissolving, with IUD use at its highest levels since the 1980s.
However, there are still some concerns about the devices beyond the complication risks. In some cases, women report insertion of the IUD can be painful and takes too long, sometimes involving insertion tools designed to pierce the cervix. New technology is making placement of the IUDs easier, less painful and faster.
Mirena IUD Concerns
The most popular IUD on the market is Bayer’s Mirena IUD; a levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system. The small T-shaped birth control is inserted into the woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy for up to five years.
Bayer introduced Mirena in 2000, aggressively promoting the IUD as a hassle-free form of birth control. However, a growing number of women and their doctors have reported problems where the Mirena IUD migrated from its initial implant location, perforating the uterus and other organs, causing infections and abscesses, and leaving women unknowingly unprotected against the chance of pregnancy.
Since 2000, more than 70,000 adverse events have been filed with the FDA involving Mirena IUD complications, including at least 5,000 cases involving women who indicated that Mirena migrated out of place since 2008, and 1,322 reports where the Mirena IUD punctured the uterus.
This has resulted in hundreds of product liability lawsuits filed against Bayer, alleging that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn women or the medical community about the risk of Mirena injuries.
Bayer has attempted to defend the lawsuits by arguing that information about the risk of perforation is provided with the product. However, plaintiffs maintain that the Mirena warnings are inadequate, arguing that the current language suggests that the risk of perforation only exists at the time the device is implanted. Many women report that the Mirena IUD moved spontaneously years after it was put in place, and that inadequate information was provided about the risk of these problems.
Amid the mounting litigation over Mirena, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated proceedings in the federal court system in April, centralizing all lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings. Known as an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, the cases have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel in the Southern District of New York.
There are currently about 300 cases centralized in the Mirena MDL. However, as more women contact Mirena injury lawyers over the coming months and years, the total number of lawsuits is expected to continue to rise, with some estimates suggesting that thousands of cases will ultimately be filed.