Mirena Lawsuits Gearing Up for Trial
With 123 Mirena IUD lawsuits already having been centralized in the federal MDL, and thousands more expected, the parties are preparing to select a small group of cases that will be eligible for early trial dates, beginning as soon as late 2015.
Does 2015 sound like forever from now? It does. But that is the way mass torts in the MDL proceed. There is a lot of discovery we need to do to find out:
- What Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals knew about the risks associated with IUDs in general and, specifically, with Mirena;
- Why didn’t the company do a better job of communicating the risks of uterine perforation and migration?;
- What Bayer tried to do to make its IUD as safe as possible;
- Were profits the motive to avoid making the warning more clear.
Digging through all of this is going to take some time. Doing this correctly will, I believe, really increase the ultimate settlement value of these cases. So it is worth the work.
In April of this year, all Mirena cases filed in the federal court system were transferred for coordinated proceedings before Judge Cathy Seibel. In other words, for the purposes of discovery, this is a class action lawsuit. This month, Judge Seibel outlined the discovery process for the litigation that included a time-table for the selection of a small group of cases that will go through case-specific discovery in preparation for early trial dates, known as bellwether trials. A bellwether case is basically a test case, allowing the parties to see what a jury will do with a garden-variety claim so they can decide where they stand. Bellwether cases are often precursors for settlement talks.
The Problem with Mirena
Mirena, a small, flexible T-shaped IUD, releases a hormone called Levonorgestrel, a hormone that effectively prevents pregnancy. Mirena is placed in a woman’s uterus, and is inserted by a doctor in an outpatient office visit. The problem with Mirena is that there are a lot of problems. Bayer admits that it doesn’t exactly know how it works, which should be the first sign of concern.
The theory is that the device releases Levonorgesterel to be distributed in tiny proportions directly to the lining of the uterus. It may thicken cervical mucus to prevent movement of sperm; and it may thin the lining of the uterus. The big problem with Mirena, as countless women have discovered, is that the small “flexible” device can puncture the uterus, which could lead to bleeding, inflammation and infection. It can also shift and migrate to a part of the woman’s body outside of the uterus.
The IUD may need to be surgically removed and, in serious cases, the uterus could be at risk and a hysterectomy may be required. Some women experience Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Long-term consequences include infertility, ectopic pregnancy, permanent pelvic pain, and abscesses.
Why a Warning Was Particularly Important in This Case
It is obviously important for the maker of a drug or medical device to warn doctors and consumers about the risk associated with that product. When it comes to birth control, a warning matters even more because women have so many choices. Women have basically four choices when it comes to this class of birth control:
- Implanon: This device is a plastic implant rod containing progestogen etonogestrel which is surgically inserted under the skin of the upper arm
- Depo-Provera: injectable progestogen that last up to three months.
- ParaGard Intrauterine Copper IUD: similar to Mirena but does not release steroidal hormones.
Mirena IUDs Have Caused Heartache for Many Women
They also have a choice of IUDs. One option is the ParaGard Intrauterine Copper IUD which may of been a better choice for some women. But both come with risks. The ParaGuard cu-IUD, which costs about $500, even before screening and the cost of insertion, can result in uterine perforation and other malpositioning that can cause damage to the woman’s surrounding organs.
Mirena IUD, unlike ParaGard, contains levonorgestrel which are steroidal hormones. With Mirena, you have the risk of uterine perforation and also potentially the risk of ovarian cysts, irregular bleeding, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and cramps.
There is another troubling risk with Mirena worth considering too. Give Bayer credit for this: women rarely get pregnant while using this form of birth control. But it does happen. If a woman does conceive, there is the risk of a lost fetus and permanent infertility. These are real risks.
The others come with their own risk. Depo-Provera use has been shown to result in a doubled risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV and a loss of bone mineral density. Implanon has higher risk for ectopic pregnancy and pulmonary emboli and strokes that can be fatal. The risks with Implanon may be even even higher for smokers.
So none of these choices are perfect. But women do have choices and they deserve information to make the right choice for them.
Bayer Faces More Mirena IUD Lawsuits
A number of Mirena IUD lawsuits have also been filed in the New Jersey state court, and have also been centralized before one judge for coordinated proceedings. There are currently almost 200 cases, again with many more expected.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a Mirena IUD, contact us at 1.800.553.8082 or online here. We can tell you about the current state of Mirena settlements and lawsuits, and we can help you to determine if a lawsuit is right for you.
- Mirena IUD Lawsuit Update
- An Overview of These Claims: What You Can Do For Yourself