As a class action against medical giant Johnson & Johnson begins in New South Wales over the company’s pelvic mesh device, complications surrounding mesh implants have been reported at Port Pirie.
The Victorian-based not-for-profit consumer advocate, Health Issues Centre, conducted a survey into the impact of Transvaginal Mesh Implants for submission to a federal Senate inquiry.
More than 2000 women have been surveyed by HIC across Australia, with five women from Port Pirie responding to the survey. The technology has been used to treat complications caused by childbirth.
Of those respondents who had implants, about half claim to have been adversely affected, citing problems such as chronic incontinence, abdominal pain, painful intercourse and marital breakdown.
The Senate inquiry was seeking to understand the extent of the technology’s use in Australia – no records of mesh implant procedures performed in Australia have been kept.
Health Issues Centre chief executive officer Danny Vadasz said while the figures are just the “tip of the iceberg”, they are finally providing a clearer picture of the unfolding tragedy.
“Even the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which is conducting its own due diligence into the adverse impact of the implants, has had minimal success,” Mr Vadasz said.
“From July 2012 to 1 June 2016, it only received 99 adverse events reports involving urogynaecological surgical meshes.”
Mr Vadasz believes the transvaginal mesh tragedy will eclipse the Thalidomide disaster of the ‘50s and ‘60s which is estimated to have affected approximately 200 women across Australia.
The class action against Johnson & Johnson in NSW is being filed by 700 women.
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care estimates 100,000 women have had pelvic mesh implants since the late 1990s, but the number of women who have been adversely impacted is unknown.
The HIC’s survey and study is ongoing and can be accessed online.
The findings of the Health Issues Centre survey as of May, 2017:
- 73% of the 1,571 respondents had undergone mesh implants. This equated to 1,141 women.
- 49% of the 1,141 women said they experienced adverse effects from their mesh implant. 415 cited incontinence, 318 abdominal pain, 313 pain during intercourse and 127 breakdown of their marriage or other personal relationship.
- 41% of women who had been adversely impacted believe they were not fully informed before agreeing to the procedure. Another 22% felt things had not gone according to what they had originally been told, leaving 35% that believe they had made an informed choice.
- 34% of the women reported their adverse impact as “discomforting” while 30% said it was “debilitating” and 12% “unendurable”.
- While 61% of the women who had been adversely impacted sought remedial medical assistance, only 10.6% reported this made things better. For 40% it didn’t make any difference while for 11% it made matters worse. 39% were simply told there was nothing that could be done.
- 48% of overall respondents were over the age of 60.