Two French women have filed an Essure lawsuit against multinational healthcare corporation Bayer, echoing the allegations leveled by thousands of women in the United States. Their representative, Paris-based attorney Charles Joseph-Oudin, told the Agence France-Presse that his clients had initiated their suit on December 9, 2016. The attorney says that 30 other French women, who blame Essure for devastating side effects, are preparing to begin their own legal actions.

Essure Lawsuits In France Demand Medical Inquiry

The two Plaintiffs, Joseph-Oudin said, have requested that the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Bobigny, a northeastern suburb of Paris, appoint independent medical examiners to investigate the link between Bayer’s birth control implant and their alleged injuries. The attorney believes that Bayer should bear the cost of these medical examinations, since the women’s claimed side effects “are part of recognized side effects of the product.”

French Essure Lawsuits Infographic

French newspaper Le Parisien reports that, among Essure’s “dramatic” side effects, come severe neurological, muscular and menstrual symptoms. Le Monde cites “hemorrhagic disorders,” “temporary or permanent paralysis,” “back or neck pain” and transient deafness as particular concerns that have affected French patients. Dizziness, depression and uterine perforations have also been reported.

Joseph-Oudin, the attorney representing both French Plaintiffs, suggests that Essure’s nickel content may be to blame. Many women in the US also say that Essure’s materials could be exacerbating undiagnosed nickel allergies. Anywhere from 10% to 20% of the American population currently has a nickel allergy, according to Consumer Reports. Signs suggest that these numbers are increasing.

French Ministry Puts Essure In “Enhanced Surveillance”

France’s Health Ministry, besieged by a series of recent public health crises, has already issued an initial response to the complaint. The national agency announced that, along the lines of preliminary investigations, the two plaintiffs’ injuries appeared to have been caused by botched implantation attempts, rather than Essure itself.

Even so, France’s FDA-equivalent, the Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament (NASM), has seen adverse event reports skyrocket in recent years, from 42 in 2012 to 242 in 2015, according to Le Monde.

French Essure Adverse Event Reports Infographic

While the national health agency has not yet called Essure’s benefit / risk profile into question, the device has been placed under “enhanced surveillance” for the last two years. Bayer spokespeople have declined to comment on the newly-initiated French litigation, but continue to stand behind Essure’s safety profile. Bayer says that around 240,000 Essure implant units have been sold in France so far.

French Support Group, RESIST, Fights Essure In Europe

As in the United States, Essure’s release onto the French market has been met with considerable backlash. One of the new lawsuit’s Plaintiffs, a mother from Lorraine named Marielle Klein, founded her own group, RESIST, in June to offer mutual aid and support to women who have been affected by Essure. RESIST shares a striking resemblance to Essure Problems, a support network established in the United States to fight for a total recall of the contraceptive device.

On the urging of activists from RESIST, Michèle Rivasi, a Member of the European Parliament, has expressed dismay at Bayer’s apparent reluctance to withdraw Essure from the European market. Rivasi has asked the ANSM to make all clinical studies on Essure’s safety publicly-available, as required by European Union Directives. Thus far, her requests have gone unheeded.

In recent weeks, members of RESIST were invited to participate in a physicians’ working group on the risks and side effects of Essure for the Collège National des Gynécologues et Obstétriciens Français. A petition launched by the group, which called on France’s Minister of Health, Marisol Touraine, to issue a formal recall of Essure has received nearly 66,700 supporters.

International Efforts Call For Essure Recall

According to RESIST, France is home to the world’s second largest population of Essure users, behind only the United States. But protest over the birth control implant’s continued sale have swept the globe.

International Groups Against Essure Infographic

Alongside the E-Sisters of US-based Essure Problems and France’s RESIST, women in at least 10 other countries have established their own groups to fight for governmental intervention:

  • Essure Problems – South Africa
  • Essure Problems – Australia
  • Essure Awareness – Canada
  • Problemas con Essure – Costa Rica
  • Problemas con Essure y Información – Spain
  • Suomen Essure Problems – Finland
  • Essure Problems – UK & Ireland
  • Essure in Italia Problemi – Italy
  • Essure Problemen – the Netherlands

With two new Essure lawsuits now filed in France, it appears that the fight against Bayer’s birth control implant has become truly international.