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Bayer Healthcare faces new allegations that the side effects of the Mirena IUD birth control implant caused a woman to suffer blindspots in her vision, severe headaches and other health consequences caused by a medical condition known as pseudotumor cerebri (PTC).
In a product liability complaint (PDF) filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Katelynn Hammond indicates that only about a year after the Mirena IUD was implanted for long-term birth control, she developed a dangerous buildup of fluid pressure on her brain and optic nerves.
Known as pseudotumor cerebri (PTC), or idiopathic intracranial hemorrhage (IIH), the condition involves elevated levels of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain, which typically produces severe headaches, visual disturbances and other problems. While the fluid pressure may be resolved, the PTC/IIH may result in permanent vision problems if irreversible damage is suffered to the optic nerve.
Hammond is 27 years old, indicating that she had a Mirena intrauterine devices (IUD) placed in her uterus in May 2014. The IUD involves a T-shaped plastic implant, which releases the progestin levonorgestrel, which is also found in other birth control products. However, unlike certain forms of levonorgestrel birth control, Bayer failed to warn that women may face a risk of pseudotumor cerebri, or disclose the importance of monitoring Mirena users for blindspots, headaches and other symptoms.
A little more than a year after the Mirena IUD was implanted, Hammond indicates that she required emergency room treatment due to headaches and blurry vision in July 2015. While an MRI was initially unable to detect the cause of her problems, she was later diagnosed with IIH/PTC after a lumbar puncture.
According to allegations raised in the lawsuit, the condition has caused Hammond to suffer headaches, floaters and blind spots in her vision, sharp pains at the base of the skull, nausea and vomiting.
Hammond’s claim joins a growing number of Mirena IUD lawsuits filed in courts nationwide, each raising similar allegations that women may have avoided serious injuries if adequate information had been provided.
“There is currently no treatment to reverse permanent injury to the optic nerves caused by increased intracranial pressure,” Hammond’s lawsuit notes. “Because of this, treatment of PTC or IIH is focused on halting visual loss that has already occurred.”
In late April 2017, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established coordinated pretrial proceedings for all cases brought by women diagnosed with PTC/IIH from the Mirena birth control implant, centralizing the claims before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Englemayer in the Southern District of New York.
As Mirena lawyers continue to review and file PTC/IIH claims for women nationwide, it is expected that the size and scope of the litigation will continue to grow over the coming weeks and months.
It is expected that Judge Englemayer will establish a bellwether program as part of the coordinated proceedings, where a small group of cases will be prepared for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.