Photo Credit: Marc Hauser Photography/Hulton Archive/Getty
She may be onto something again.
Famous environmental activist Erin Brockovich (yes, the one Julia Roberts played) has launched a campaign and online petition against the birth control Essure. She wants to have this non-surgical, transcervical sterilization procedure taken off the market and is lobbying for a full investigation into the hundreds of claims made by women who say they have been injured by this contraceptive.
Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2002, the 10-minute, outpatient procedure is described by Bayer -- the company behind Essure -- as a hormone-free way of “creating a natural barrier that permanently prevents pregnancy.” The procedure begins with a doctor placing small, flexible inserts in the fallopian tubes. During the following three months, scar tissue forms around the inserts, ultimately forming a barrier around the tubes, which will prevent sperm from reaching the eggs.
"There's something wrong with the device, in my opinion," Brockovich recently told ABCNews.com. "It's a form of permanent birth control, and women's organs are being perforated… It's ridiculous that at any level we try to defend this. If 30 women did suffer harm for unknown reason, we'd investigate. We have thousands injured. I don't think it's safe."
More than 800 women have filed adverse event reports regarding Essure since 2004. According to Brockovich’s website, the women have suffered from one or more of the following issues: debilitating headaches, nausea, allergic response to the nickel the device is made of, hysterectomies, colon perforation due to the device moving, loss of device (yes, even scans couldn’t figure out where they’ve gone) and pregnancy.
"[Bayer] should care about the health and welfare of all people," Brockovich told ABCNews.com. "Especially women and children in this country. If this many are reporting injuries, take it off the market. It's not working. These women were misled. They feel they were scammed."
Essure does list the "warnings, precautions and other potential risks" of this procedure on their official website, which include moderate pain and/or cramping, vaginal bleeding, pelvic or back discomfort, nausea, vomiting or fainting. No mention there of tearing or those inserts going AWOL. In a statement released to ABC News, a spokesperson from Bayer stated the following: "We are saddened to hear of any serious health condition affecting a patient using one of our products, irrespective of the cause. No form of birth control is without risk or should be considered appropriate for every woman."
Geez, way to pass the buck.