The FDA relies on adverse event and product problem reports, FDA-mandated postmarket studies, and published literature to monitor the safety and effectiveness of medical devices. The FDA reviews the available information about Essure and the experiences of patients who have or have had Essure. This includes experiences of patients who have had positive outcomes with Essure as well as those who have experienced problems.
Even though Essure is no longer being sold or distributed in the U.S., the FDA will continue to evaluate medical device reports related to Essure and will keep the public informed if new information becomes available.
Adverse event and product problem reports submitted to the FDA are one source the FDA uses to monitor the safety profile of medical devices. These reports may contribute to the detection of potential device-related safety issues as well as to the benefit-risk assessments of these devices. While such reports are a valuable source of information, this type of reporting system has notable limitations, including the potential submission of incomplete, inaccurate, untimely, unverified, or biased data. This can make it difficult for the agency to confirm whether a device caused a specific event based only on the information provided in a medical device report. Complaints or adverse event reports do not necessarily directly indicate a faulty or defective medical device, and adverse event reports alone cannot be used to establish or compare rates of event occurrence. Additionally, we may receive multiple reports related to the same event, making it difficult to determine actual numbers of events.
Medical Device Reports Received by the FDA Related to Essure (2002-2018)
The FDA conducted a search of the Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience (MAUDE) database on February 19, 2019. From November 4, 2002, Essure's approval date, through December 31, 2018, the FDA received 32,773 medical device reports related to Essure. Most reports received between 2013 and 2015 were voluntary reports submitted from women who received Essure implants. Beginning in 2016, Bayer submitted most of the reports received by the FDA. In 2018, Bayer submitted 89.8 percent (89.8%) of the reports received by the FDA.
The total number of medical device reports received related to Essure in 2018 is 6,000. In 2017, the FDA received 11,854 medical device reports related to Essure. The nature and severity of the reports remain consistent with prior years; however, in 2017 and 2018, 73 percent (73%) of all submitted reports cited litigation and may be referencing reports previously submitted to the FDA.
In 2017 and 2018, 92.7 percent (92.7%) and 87.5 percent (87.5%) respectively of all reports received used terms related to device removal, but some of these reports may not indicate that the device was removed or the date of removal.
From 2002 through 2018, the most frequently-reported patient problems were pain/abdominal pain (26,244), heavier menses/menstrual irregularities (13,114), headache (8,398), fatigue (6,912), weight fluctuations (5,853), depression/anxiety (5,175), hair loss (4,880), and hypersensitivity/rash (4,807). Most of the reports received listed multiple patient problems in each report. The most frequent device problems reported were patient-device incompatibility (for example, possible nickel allergy) (5,206), migration of the device or device component (3,410), dislodged or dislocated device (1,632), device breakage/material fragmentation/fracture (1,533), device operating differently than expected, for example, implant failure or pregnancy (1,058), malposition of the device (336), device difficult to remove (341), and device difficult to insert (335). Multiple device problems can also be listed in each report.
Through December 31, 2018, there have been 57 reports coded by the submitter as death. Eight of these were incorrectly coded, as there was no indication of death in the report. Of the remaining 49, 17 reports relate to 15 adult deaths; 23 reports relate to 20 incidences of pregnancy loss; five reports relate to five incidents of a death of an infant after live birth; two reports relate to two incidences of ectopic pregnancies (a complication of pregnancy in which the fertilized egg attaches outside the uterus); one report specifies a death but does not indicate whether the death was before or after birth; and one report references an unknown number of deaths posted in social media. It is difficult for the FDA to determine whether the device caused the death with only the information provided in the report.
The FDA has received a total of 2,230 reports of pregnancies in patients with Essure from 2002 through 2018. Some reports contained information on multiple pregnancies or more than one pregnancy loss. Of the total reports: 454 live births were reported; 704 did not indicate whether the pregnancy resulted in a live birth or pregnancy loss; and 1,055 pregnancy losses were reported. Some reports contain information on multiple pregnancies.
Among the 1,055 pregnancy losses reported: 411 were reported as ectopic pregnancies; 145 were reported as elective terminations of pregnancies, and 564 were reported as other pregnancy losses.
Device Removal Reports (2017-2018)
The FDA completed an extensive evaluation of medical device reports submitted in 2017 and 2018 that mentioned issues involving potential device removal to learn more about why women were choosing to have the device removed, which usually requires a surgical procedure. This involved evaluating more than 17,000 medical device reports submitted to the FDA in 2017 and2018 on the Essure device. Most of these reports referenced an instance in which the device was removed from a patient, and most came from cases that were made available by plaintiff attorneys as part of litigation against the manufacturer Bayer.
From January 2017 through December 2018, there were 11,854 medical device reports related to Essure in 2017 and 6,000 reports in 2018. Of those reports, eighty-five percent (85%) referenced an instance in which the device was removed from a patient (referred to as "device removal reports" from here after).
- Eighty percent (80%) of the device removal reports cite litigation.
- The top six reported reasons in the device removal reports were:
- Pain: 60 percent (60%),
- Genital hemorrhage: 14 percent (14%),
- Device dislocation/migration/expulsion: 12 percent (12%),
- Perforation: 11 percent (11%),
- Suspected allergy to metals: 4 percent (4%), and
- Device breakage: 3 percent (3%).
Most individual reports included more than one reason for device removal.
- Sixty-six percent (66%) of the device removal reports did not provide information regarding patients' outcomes after device removal (or the outcome was unknown).
- Of the 34 percent (34%) device removal reports that did provide information about patients' outcomes:
- Forty-three percent (43%) stated patient symptoms resolved after device removal;
- Forty-five percent (45%) stated patient symptoms partially resolved (meaning only some of the symptoms resolved or symptoms were in the process of resolving); and
- Twelve percent (12%) stated patient symptoms were not resolved or improved.
- Ten percent (10%) of the device removal reports suggest complications directly related to device removal. The most commonly reported complications related to Essure device removal were:
- Device breakage,
- Coil migration,
- Device fragments remaining in the patient,
- Procedural or post-procedural hemorrhage, and
- Uterine or fallopian tube perforation.
- Sixty percent (60%) of the device removal reports specified a date in which the device was removed. Device removal reports included explant dates ranging from the year 2003 to 2018.
- Fifty percent (50%) of the device removal reports provided both an implant and an explant date. In these reports, the mean and median time from implant to explant were both approximately 4.5 years.