UK Transvaginal Mesh Victims Head to Parliament to Push for Ban

Published on July 18, 2017 by Laurie Villanueva

A campaign is underway in the U.K. to ban transvaginal mesh implants. Today, the Sling the Mesh movement heads to Westminster, where about 80 pelvic mesh recipients hope to convince Parliament to suspend use of the controversial devices.

More than 100,000 transvaginal mesh surgeries have taken place in the UK over the past decade. The polypropylene implants are used to treat women who suffer from pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. However, members of Sling the Mesh claim that the devices have caused thousands to suffer debilitating pain, adhesions, organ damage and other complications due to mesh erosion and shrinkage.

Sling the Mesh Campaign

Sling the Mesh was founded by Kath Sansom in June 2015.

“I now have more than 2,200 members of Sling the Mesh. All of us who are suffering were told it was a simple 20-minute fix. What none of us were told were the devastating complications,” Sansom recently told the Cambs Times. “There are women who now struggle to walk, are in constant pain, suffer infections, loss of sex life or worse mesh shrinking and cutting into bladders, bowels or slicing through vaginal walls.”

Sling the Mesh is calling for:

  • A ban on transvaginal mesh procedures in the U.K.
  • Stricter regulation on medical device approvals.
  • A national registry to track transvaginal mesh complications.

The Scottish Parliament imposed a moratorium on mesh surgeries in 2014. However, the moratorium was lifted after new guidelines were put in place.

FDA Transvaginal Mesh Warning

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) warned in 2008 that it had received more than 1,000 reports of serious transvaginal mesh complications during the previous three-year period.  The agency renewed its warning in July 2011, after the number of injury reports tripled. The FDA also reversed its opinion that complications related to transvaginal prolapse repair were rare, and questioned whether such procedures offered any additional benefits compared to traditional non-mesh surgery.

Hundreds of thousands of women have since filed transvaginal mesh lawsuits. Numerous cases have gone to trial in recent years, with juries delivering verdicts for both plaintiffs and defendants. A significant percentage of claims have also been settled, though thousands remain pending.

Transvaginal mesh manufacturers involved in the U.S. litigation include American Medical Systems, Inc., Boston Scientific Corp., C.R. Bard, Inc., Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon, Inc. unit, Coloplast Corp., Cook Medical, Inc. and Neomedic.

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