Bayer Agrees To Settle Disputes Against Essure Contraception Drugs

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Legal Disputes and the Pharmaceutical Sector

Legal disputes in the pharmaceutical sector are an industrial norm. Companies are usually found to be involved in litigations by and against rival companies mostly over patent disputes, and often from individuals complaining about injuries suffered from using a specific manufacturer’s pharma products. Cases that involve health injuries caused due to medicinal consumption are severe. Such litigations raise questions upon the utility and reliability of a company’s products, eventually leading to fingers being pointed at that company’s competence and finding possible negligence. The most recent instance of litigation involving injuries sustained through faults in pharmaceutical products is Bayer’s pregnancy prevention device Essure. Bayer’s predecessor company first developed Essure in the year 2013 as a promising implantation device for permanent birth control. The device was supposed to be inserted into the woman’s fallopian tube, which would scar it and block the tube permanently impairing its reproductive functions. 

Bayer & the Essure Controversy

However, the device was discontinued by Bayer in 2018 after tens of thousands of women reported physical reactions, pains, bleeding, and allergies after using it. The complaints amounted to over 39,000 women who filed cases against the company in California and Pennsylvania. Diagnosis revealed that the inserted coils often dislodged from the fallopian tubes and migrated to other parts of the body, causing severe physical injuries. Women affected complained of excessive bleeding, pelvic pain, weight gain, fatigue, irregular periods, and memory lapses, amongst other reactions. At times, women who had used the device also suffered from organ damage. Essure also failed to prevent pregnancies in some instances, leading to 300 fetal deaths and stillbirths reported, with at least one woman killed.

The victims approached the relevant courts of law to bring the company under accountability and receive compensation for their injuries. Bayer also markets its Essure devices in countries other than the United States and claims to have sold around 750,000 units globally. Out of this total, the scale of 39,000 women suffering from direct side-effects of Essure makes at least 5.2% of the product’s total consumers as confirmed victims. This figure is undoubtedly an alarming ratio, especially for a pharmaceutical product dedicated to sensitive usage. 

Mass Reactions & Public Outcry Supporting the Victims

The overwhelming amount of such confirmed cases was aggravated by the public outcry received by Bayer online. The Essure controversy was kept flaming by activists and the general public on social media, which was on a peak when a Facebook page named Essure problems surfaced on the web. The online platform became the center of public discussion regarding Essure and the health disasters it entails. Apart from claiming compensation solely for the injuries suffered, the women also alleged Bayer of underreporting the complaints it received from patients to the FDA. The allegations leveled questions upon Bayer’s corporate ethics behind its attempts to conceal the measure and details of its device’s harms. 

Settlement Proposed by Bayer

Bayer has offered to settle the dispute with plaintiffs for a total payout of US $ 1.6 billion, although a cheap bargain to the corporation but a decent deal for the plaintiffs. With this amount, Bayer intends to settle 90% of all the claims in the Essure controversy. In comparison, the company would continue to work on the remaining 10% separately as per its official correspondence.

What left the plaintiffs and the general public utterly awestruck is that Bayer, despite strong evidence suggesting its faulty devices, has been the leading cause of injuries suffered, has refused to admit any possibility of inefficacy on its product’s part. As per reports, Bayer has explicitly included clauses in its settlement agreement, which negate any possible inference of mistake, neglect, or inefficiency in its product concept. In fact, the reason given for the discontinuance of the Essure product-line was commercial no-profitability and not safety concerns.

From the plaintiffs’ perspective, the settlement offer had been well-awaited and welcomed. Knowing entirely that the plaintiffs’ case was strong enough to attract a handsome award of damages, Bayer had no other choice than to approach for a settlement at the right time. Such a settlement would mitigate the company’s negative image attached to Essure to a certain extent and slowly erase it from society’s memory span: out of sight, out of mind. With smart strategies, the company can again relaunch its product line after a set lapse of time, supported with studies and tests endorsing its enhanced design and improvements.

Corporations’ General Approach Towards Disputes & Their Settlement

Are companies so quick and generous in offering to settle disputes with their customers? One may ask. This remains the first question often faced by a potential plaintiff looking for reasonable compensation for his damages. The answer to this inquisition lies in the strength of the plaintiff’s claim, supporting arguments, and the charges he holds the company liable for. The accused company duly feels that these factors befall in the plaintiff’s favor and are well aware that they will have to face public questioning, confront media trials, and bear legal battles with patience and wit. These battles rarely turn out to be commercially beneficial for the company, which only leaves them with the choice to amicably settle the matter out of court at such decided terms.

The disadvantaged victims hence are hopeful of receiving decent sums of money per head. The payout offered cannot make up for the severe injuries suffered, or the deaths caused, but might be adequate compensation to relieve the wrongs committed. A successful settlement deal would mean that the plaintiffs manage to avoid the litigation process and delays. In contrast, the company gets to evade the negative projection of its entity amongst the masses.

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