Dutch women join lawsuit against German firm Bayer over sterilization implant

July 18, 2023  –AMSTERDAM – A foundation of Dutch women filed a mass tort against the German pharmaceutical firm, Bayer. They want compensation between 10,000 and 40,000 euros per person for serious physical harm they incurred, which they believe stem from Bayer’s Essure implant, a form of permanent birth control, Financieele Dagblad reports. The sterilization method was an alternative to procedures like tubal ligation until the product was taken off the market in Europe at the end of 2018. 

The women, united in the Essure Claims Foundation, have been talking with Bayer for two years, but attempts to reach an agreement have come to nothing, their lawyer Martijn van Dam told FD. At least 1,700 women and 16 Dutch health insurers have joined the mass claim, he said. 

Essure was marketed as a form of permanent contraception, consisting of two coils inserted into the fallopian tubes with no surgery required. Bayer announced it would pull Essure from the market in 2017, claiming a lack of commercial success was behind the decision. 

In the subpoena, the foundation states that Essure was “not the miracle product” that Bayer presented. The foundation said that the coils sometimes “wander” in the body, causing significant harm. Women sometimes had allergic reactions and inflammation to the metals used in the Essure. 

According to the Essure Claims Foundation, an estimated 4,000 Dutch women have had their Essure implants removed, requiring surgery in most cases. Doctors had to remove the fallopian tubes and sometimes also the uterus, the foundation said. 

The Netherlands is the first European country to file a mass lawsuit against Bayer over the Essure. The Dutch foundation is utilizing Wamca, a law that took effect in 2020 to make it easier to collectively demand damages for suffering. Several prominent lawyers and doctors support the foundation. 

Litigation financier Redbreast will fund the proceedings on a contingency basis where participants do not have to pay unless the legal proceedings are successful. They committed to giving the financier 25 to 30 percent of any potential compensation. 

Bayer confirmed to FD that it had received the summons. The company maintains that Essure is safe and effective and says it will defend itself “vigorously” against the claims. The first hearing is scheduled in the Midden-Nederland Court in Utrecht on August 2. 

According to FD, Bayer has settled tens of thousands of lawsuits over the Essure implant in the United States. The company paid 1.6 billion dollars in compensation three years ago but admitted no fault. 

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