Some 700 Dutch women have filed a class action suit against Bayer, claiming a sterilisation implant made by the German pharmaceutical giant has left them with serious health problems including damage to their wombs and fallopian tubes.
The women, united in a foundation of 1700 other women who were all fitted with the Essure sterilisation implant, want compensation of between €10,000 and €40,000 each, the subpoena served to Bayer specifies. A total of 16 health insurers also support the claim.
If successful Bayer would have to pay up some €40 million in compensation.
An earlier attempt to come to a settlement with Bayer, which denies liability, came to nothing, lawyer Martijn van Dam, who will be representing the foundation in court, told the Financieele Dagblad.
The implant was taken off the market in 2017, ostensibly because of a lack of commercial success. By then, some 30,000 Dutch women had been fitted with the implants, which did not require an operation, as a form of permanent contraception.
Bayer told the FD it had received the subpoena and stated that it is still convinced of the safety of the device and will put up a “robust defense”.
The Netherlands is the first European country to file a mass claim over the Essure implant. In the United States Bayer settled tens of thousands of cases involving the implant, paying out some $1.6 billion in compensation but never admitting liability.
Problems allegedly caused by the Essure implant include inflammation due to allergic reactions to the metal in the implant and damage to organs because the implant becomes detached.
Gynecologist Bas Veersema, who initially advocated the use of the implant, is expected to play an important role in the trial. Veersema later doubted the safety of Essure after having operated on some 700 women, saying that calcification effectively turned the implants into nails.
The Foundation said some 40,000 women have already had the implants removed, Some needed an operation which also necessitated the removal of their fallopian tubes, and in some cases, their wombs.
Class action law
The Foundation is making use of a law that came into force in 2020 and which makes it easier to file mass claims, and will be financed by claims financing organisation Redbreast on a “no cure no pay” basis.
Bayer is to make its first court appearance in Utrecht on August 2. “The women want justice, they are not there for the money,” Van Dam, who is expecting “a lengthy legal battle”, said.
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