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Blind spots, sharp head pains and nausea were all symptoms of intracranial hypertension caused by a Mirena IUD, according to allegations raised in a lawsuit brought by a Nebraska woman who developed a dangerous build up of fluid pressure around her brain after the long-term birth control was implanted.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Stephanie Brewer in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on August 16, indicating that Bayer Healthcare failed to adequately warn women and the medical community about the importance of monitoring for symptoms of headaches or vision problems on Mirena, which may be caused by increased pressure on the optic nerve.
Brewer indicates that she was implanted with the Mirena IUD in March 2009, which was designed to provide protection against pregnancy for up to five years. However, in December 2010, she went to her eye doctor complaining of blind spots, floaters in her vision, sharp pains at the base of her skull, nausea and vomitting.
After being diagnosed with bilateral papilledema, Brewer was given a CT scan and was eventually diagnosed with idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), which is also commonly referred to as pseudotumor cerebri (PTC).
The condition involves elevated levels of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain, which typically produces headaches, visual disturbances and other problems. While the fluid pressure may be resolved, the PTC/IIH may result in permanent vision problems if damage is suffered by the optic nerve.
“It has been estimated that approximately 1-2 people per 100,000 in the United States have PTC or IIH, although reports suggest the prevalence of the disorder is increasing. In 1994, a study found that in females between the ages of 15 to 44, IIH occurred at a rate of approximately 3.3 per 100,000 per year,” the lawsuit notes. “Despite the rarity of PTC/IIH, women who use levonorgestrel-containing products, like the Mirena IUS, more commonly develop the disorder.”
Brewer’s claim joins a growing number of Mirena IUD intracranial hypertension lawsuits filed in courts nationwide, each raising similar allegations that women may have avoided serious injuries if adequate information had been provided.
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.