Vaginal mesh implants
Vaginal mesh implants are used in women who suffer from pelvic organ prolapse. These implants can cause serious and permanent health issues. Representing Dutch women who have fallen victim to defective mesh implants, our firm plays an important part in the societal and political debate on the subject.
Round-table conversation Lower House
On Monday, 25 November 2019 the Lower House had a round-table conversation about implants. The Standing Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Sport (‘VWS’) had invited a variety of experts, including (inter)national regulatory organisations, medical specialists and patient organisations. The round-table conversation was held in preparation of the Lower House debate on 27 November 2019, and aimed at clarifying the question how to optimize the safety of (the regulation and admission of) implants in the Netherlands, with the patient in mind. The experts exchanged views among themselves and with the politicians present, namely Van de Beek (CDA), Van Gerwen (SP), Ploumen (PvDA), Agema (PVV) and Veldman (VVD).
John Beer and Irene Timmermans wrote a position paper (in Dutch), presenting ways how to best serve patients’ safety. John Beer defended these plans to the Lower House during the round-table conversation. In the radio show ‘Met het Oog op morgen’ on 24 November 2019, John Beer explained that it is not the patient in fact who decides to have an implant but rather the treating physician. John Beer had been interviewed earlier, in November 2018, by the show ‘Radar’ on the safety and unsafety of medical implants.
Ruling Australian Court
On 21 November 2019 the Australian court issued a landmark ruling against manufacturer Ethicon/Johnson & Johnson. Hundreds of women had filed proceedings because they had serious health issues after being fitted with mesh implants. The Court ruled in favour of the women. De Volkskrant published an article about this significant step forward in the battle against the manufacturers of vaginal mesh implants.
On 30 January 2020 the American court ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a penalty of no less than 344 million dollars. The Court held that the manufacturer had deliberately withheld information about the risks of mesh, intentionally deceiving doctors and patients. On 10 February 2020 John Beer announced that he had meanwhile filed criminal charges on behalf of his client, victim of the harmful mesh, against the manufacturer in the Netherlands. For more details, go to the website of Radar (in Dutch), the TV show that interviewed John Beer about the subject. He accuses the manufacturer of knowingly placing products on the market that pose a risk to public health, and consciously withholding information about their harmful character.
In April 2019 the American healthcare watchdog FDA ordered the manufacturers of all surgical mesh products to stop manufacturing and selling their products. According to the FDA, long-term efficacy and complications have been insufficiently researched. This makes the product unsafe.
On 22 April 2019 Miranda Walburg was interviewed about the ban in the United States. Click here to watch the 22 April interview, in which Miranda Walburg explained why a Dutch ban on these mesh implants is likely to follow soon. She also referred to a document showing that the raw material used for the implants, polypropylene, is not suitable for medical application:
‘Medical application caution: do not use this Polypropylene material in medical applications involving permanent implantation in the human body or permanent contact with internal body fluids or tissues.’