Erin Brockovitch Takes on Bayer

Erin Brockovich (played by Julia Roberts in the 2000 movie) is the legal clerk and environmental activist who took on Pacific Gas and Electric in 1993 over a cluster of cancer cases related to water contamination in Southern California.

Brockovitch is presently championing 8,360 women damaged by a new permanent “sterilization” device called Essure. Essure, consisting of a pair of nickel coils “hysterocopically”* inserted into the fallopian tubes, first came on the market in 2002.

First marketed by Conceptus, Essure was heavily promoted as a safer, more effective and more economical alternative to tubal ligation. I find all this a litte surprising, given that laparoscopic** tubal ligation is an extremely safe and effective procedure. Moreover the cost difference between the two is a little over $700. Rhe average cost of inserting Essure coils is about $2300, compared to $3,000+ for tubal ligation.

The $2,300 doesn’t include the cost of having the coils removed if there are complications.

Owing to heavy marketing, more than 750,000 women worldwide have had Essure coils inserted into their fallopian tubes. Bayer pharmaceuticals purchased the patent rights to Essure in August 2013.

According to the Facebook private support group, 8,360 have experienced problems with Essure. Complaints range from persistent nausea and abdominal cramps to hemorrhaging and/or infection related to the perforation of the uterus, bowel or fallopian tube. None of the 8,360 women were warned about these potential side effects.

To date, there has been one death linked to Essure

The 2006 FDA Pre-Emption Rule

Some of the women who share their stories on Brockovitch’s Essure website want the product totally banned. Others, seeking compensation for their medical costs and lost time from work, simply want to overturn the pre-emption rule the FDA enacted (thanks to massive Big Pharma lobbying) in 2006.

The FDA pre-emption rule protects corporations from lawsuits for FDA-approved drugs and medical devices. It maintains the federal FDA-approval process pre-empts state liability laws.

For more information or to sign a petition of support go to:

http://www.essureprocedure.net/

* Hysteroscopy is a procedure performed by inserting a thin, lighted tube through the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes (in the case of Essure insertion). Eggs travel through the fallopian tubes from the ovaries to the uterus.

**Laparoscopy is a procedure performed by inserted a thin, lighted tube through a slit in the abdominal wall.

14 thoughts on “Erin Brockovitch Takes on Bayer

  1. I hope Brockovitch is going to be successful in achieving some changes. She is such a brave and determined woman. It looks to me like that governments do not care about consumer protection. Much more important to protect big corporations!

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  2. While I do find this to be absolutely horrifying, women need to use some common sense. Now if some doctor were to tell me that he/she would be inserting a ‘coil’ inside my body, I would get off that table so damn fast, I would be just a blur. Now, having stated that, I also understand that women are trying different ways to not get pregnant, understood, but I do think that we all need to realize that some methods are just not the thing.

    That area of the female anatomy is delicate and highly susceptible to issues when any foreign object is inserted or used. I remember decades ago when women were getting toxic shock syndrome from using superabsorbent tampons or from wearing a diaphragm or contraceptive sponge. This just proves my point. A very delicate area we’re talking about and highly sensitive to foreign objects. This should be widely understood, in my opinion of course. We all know that not enough research is done on certain medical devices before they’re introduced to the public, not to mention that pertinent information has been held back, time after time. Sigh! When will we ever learn?

    However, my hat is off to Erin Brockovitch for taking on Bayer on behalf of the affected women. Thanks for the heads-up Dr. Bramhall!

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    • I had absolutely the same reaction to the notion of women agreeing to the insertion of foreign bodies into a a fragile and presumably “sterile” area of the female anatomy. I myself can’t imagine doing such a thing.

      I guess it must be different for younger women, many of whom were raised by TV while both their parents worked. They were taught to have blind trust in the ability of science to better their lives. In my Seattle practice, I worked with several women who had silicon breast implants inserted that subsequently rupture. As a result the silicon migrated god knows where in their bodies with the result that their energy levels and immunity were gravely impaired.

      It doesn’t occur to most of them that corporations would deliberately lie and put their lives and health in danger just to make a profit.

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      • Dr. Bramhall, it is sad really that with all of the information we now have at our fingertips, we don’t do a little research on our own but simply go along with whatever is being shoved down our throats. It is 2014, not 1718 for goodness sakes. People need to start educating themselves on the available options to figure out which one seems safer. I would think that there would be safer alternatives to this particular method of birth control. And I question everything. Too bad it hasn’t caught on. You get it! I get it, but many just don’t. They simply go along with whatever is being shoved down their throats.

        How many coils are they trying to insert in the head of a man’s penis? Do you think men would go for that? We can hardly get them to get a vasectomy. But it seems that women are told to endure the dangerous procedures while men get to do the ‘all play and no worries’ bit.

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  3. Ladies, in response to your previous comments. As a victim of Essure myself I can tell you this, before I was inserted I researched it online as Shelbybycourtland recommended in her post. I took the time to sit down and Google Essure last year in August 2013. I couldn’t find anything negative, I didn’t even pull up Erin ‘ s page. Now I know I am not the only one several women have said the same thing when researching this product. Furthermore, please be aware that most doctors don’t perform tubaligation any more. They either refuse, like in my case because of other medical issues or they don’t practice them anymore. Ladies we need your support not your judgement, please take time to do your research as to how we got brain washed before you judge. A lot of us did not sign off on this procedure and woke up with it, or forced into it.

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    • J, please accept my humble apology. I’m certainly not judging you and I’m really sorry if it appears that way. My entire purpose in posting this blog was to increase public awareness of this issue to make sure more women aren’t hoodwinked as you were. I don’t understand how a doctor could think that surgically inserting a foreign body into a fallopian tube is “safer” than a tubal ligation. That really smacks of a serious error of medical judgment (malpractice) to me.

      Any doctor who performed this procedure without informing you of the risks or obtaining written consent – or who forced you into doing it – is definitely guilty of malpractice. And you can still sue doctors for malpractice, even if you can’t sue drug companies.

      Even more importantly, however, I think it’s important to highlight the general bias in the medical profession that it’s somehow okay to perform nasty, invasive and risky surgery on women when we wouldn’t dream of undertaking similar procedures on men. It’s high time for men to stand up and be men by taking some responsibility for contraception themselves – by having a vasectomy, a far less invasive procedure that either tubal ligation or insertion of an Essure coil.

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      • I don’t see how anyone could wake up to find a ‘coil’ inside them. And if they did, it would come out because we still have a say over what is inserted into our bodies despite attempts being made to the contrary. I stand by my statement because some common sense should factor in when making decisions of that magnitude. No one is going to force me to have a procedure for birth control. That sounds like some gestapo shit and that has yet to happen in America. We’ve got issues yes, but they haven’t degenerated into that. And if more people stood up for themselves instead of letting others ‘do’ things to them against their will, we wouldn’t have people getting all bent out of shape because in hindsight and after numerous serious medical issues have occurred, they find themselves wondering why in hell they got the procedure in the first place.

        No one can force a coil inside you without your knowledge and if that did indeed happen, then yes, you’ve got a leg to stand on in getting something done about it. Women need to start recognizing that it should not be incumbent upon us to always provide the contraceptives because if we continue to allow ourselves to be the focal point for contraceptives then the medical field will continue to concentrate on ridiculous sounding contraceptives aimed at females and let the males off, scot free. A ‘forced coil’ indeed!

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  4. Those FDA laws come into play with the new free trade agreement that is in the pipeline. Other countries should be warned. Those middle class women who can effort the device should know better than sticking this wire into themselves.

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  5. Hi there, and thanks for being such a loyal visitor on my blog 😉 I found this article interesting. Although I am always very touched to see the movie, I find all sorts of out-of-court settlements iffy for all sorts of reasons. In any case, it’s always great when people get together to try and fix things. I live near Basle, where much of Big Pharma is based, and Roche is currently building Switzerland’s tallest buildings. Corporations can do such things on the public tab, once they reach a certain size …and we’re supposed to thank them and their backers because they are job creators. The way this current system is set up, we also give ‘legal persons’ a bottomless pocketbook to hire the best lawyers. (One glimpse of hope: Swiss Federal Council openly challenged their right to pay fines with pre-tax dollars.)
    No, I wouldn’t let a doctor stick anything in me down there unless he had a very good reason. I would, however, consider a male birth-control pill. We currently have so many hormones from the female in our water, which sewage-processing plants don’t eliminate. Two hinderances to that: many women like the control they have (and after all, it is their bodies), and too many men seem to base their self-esteem on their own fertility. Can’t remember where I picked this one up: a pharma corp once did test a male pill, and even the control (placebo) group reported such drastic side effects that the whole plan was put on ice.
    Keep it up
    …the blogging, I mean 😉

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