A group of Scottish women have joined the international litigation against Essure, a controversial birth control implant linked to severe side effects and costly, life-altering revision procedures. To date, seven women from Scotland have joined a multi-plaintiff lawsuit against the contraceptive’s manufacturer, Bayer, the Daily Record reports. Attorneys for the group say their clients are also considering action against the National Health Service hospitals where their implantation procedures were performed.

In Scotland, 7 Women Join Essure Litigation

While no official statistics are available, and Bayer has never released detailed Essure sales data to the public, attorneys in Scotland believe that about 2,000 women in the UK nation have received the implants. Despite the manufacturer’s promises of a safe, effective and permanent contraceptive, Essure has been associated with severe complications for years.

Hospital Ward

Tens of thousands of women have reported chronic pain, abnormal menstruation and migraine-type headaches to the US Food & Drug Administration. And, after years of public protest, Bayer chose to withdraw Essure (citing “commercial reasons”) from the global market in September 2016, leaving only the United States as the last country in which the birth control implant can be purchased and used.

“Crippling Side Effects”

Hundreds of women in the US are suing Bayer in federal and state courts and, in France, where nearly 120,000 women received Essure, a host of similar lawsuits are also pending. Now, a group of seven women from Scotland are taking on the multinational pharmaceutical conglomerate, which also manufactures Aleve and Alka-Seltzer.

“Lawyers for the group say their clients have been left with crippling side-effects since they received Essure implants,” writes the Daily Record, Scotland’s leading newspaper. Court documents reference chronic and severe pain, vaginal bleeding, painful intercourse and infections, along with episodes of clinical depression. One plaintiff describes her implantation procedure as “barbaric.” And one woman, Sandra Twigg, is speaking out.

Chronic Pain & Allergic Reactions

“For a mum with three kids,” Twigg told reporters, “it sounded ideal.” Doctors at the National Health Service hospital for Greater Glasgow and Clyde told her Essure was “the way forward,” she continues. The device was “more convenient” and “less traumatic” than traditional sterilization options, Twigg was told. So she was surprised to experience significant pain soon after her implantation procedure. “It was suggested that the pain was due to stress,” Twigg says, “which was quite upsetting.”

She missed work, and needed painkillers to care for her family. Then, “a couple of months after the procedure,” Twigg began to experience an allergic reaction. “I developed welts on my leg and my thigh […] it was as if someone had burned me with an iron.” Twigg finally decided to undergo a full sterilization procedure, in which her Essure implants would be removed. She says the symptoms of her allergic reaction disappeared “overnight” after the implants were taken out.

Women May Sue NHS For Negligence

Attorney Lindsay Bruce, who is representing the seven women, thinks they may also have a case against the National Health Service. “These women have described the pain when the devices are being inserted as barbaric,” the lawyer notes.

“There was no pain relief, only a mild sedative at the time. I’m concerned that these devices were not fitted in the best interests of the patient. Given what we know, I’m concerned the women were not offered other alternatives that are available. I’m also concerned that not enough advice or counseling was given prior to having the devices inserted. They were never told about the potential problems and dangers.”

Each woman will decide for herself whether expanding her lawsuit to name the National Health Service, individual hospitals or doctors is the right option.