The Essure contraceptive device manufactured by Bayer A.G. has come under fire in the U.S. for its serious and debilitating side effects. However, Bayer’s woes over Essure have moved international with two legal complaints filed in France.
Like their American counterparts, French women suffered severe side effects from the Essure device and they want to hold Bayer responsible. French plaintiffs hope the legal complaints will lead to tribunal hearings near Paris as early as January of next year.
Essure has been available in France since 2002 and it is estimated that over 100,000 Essure devices have been implanted. Reports of dangerous side effects prompted the French Health Ministry to begin a review of Essure in July 2015.
French plaintiffs are likely eagerly watching how the Essure litigation in the U.S. will resolve, as a precedent for global lawsuits like their own. Although the FDA closed its own investigation into the Essure device, thousands of Essure lawsuits are currently pending in state and federal courts across the country.
Bayer previously kept Essure lawsuits at bay via a federal preemption rule protecting the company from liability under state law. However, several state judges are no longer buying this legal argument. Essure lawsuits in several states, including California and Illinois, have been allowed to proceed in state courts.
In California, Essure lawsuits are coordinated through a Los Angeles County Court. It is likely other states will follow suit with their own coordinated dockets for Essure lawsuits.
For its part, Bayer has denied all wrongdoing and still stands behind the safety and efficacy of its device. However, with mounting Essure lawsuits both in the U.S. and abroad, they company might decide to change its tune and begin settlement talks.
As Bayer decides how to handle its Essure lawsuits, legislation has been introduced to the U.S. Congress that, if passed, would take Essure off the market permanently.