FDA Updates Info on Postmarketing Surveillance Study of Essure

Jeff Craven

October 08, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration has updated its page on Essure information for patients and health care providers to add additional information on adverse events reported by its manufacturer.

Essure was a permanent implantable birth control device approved by the FDA in 2002. FDA ordered Bayer in 2016 to conduct a postmarket surveillance study of Essure following reports of safety concerns, and expanded the study from 3 years to 5 years in 2018. Bayer voluntarily removed Essure from the market at the end of 2018, citing low sales after a "black box" warning was placed on the device. All devices were returned to the company by the end of 2019.

Bayer is required to report variances in Medical Device Reporting (MDR) requirements of Essure related to litigation to the FDA, which includes adverse events such death, serious injury, and "malfunction that would be likely to cause or contribute to a death or serious injury if the malfunction were to recur." The reports are limited to events Bayer becomes aware of between November 2016 and November 2020. Bayer will continue to provide these reports until April 2021.

The FDA emphasized that the collected data are based on social media reports and already may be reported to the FDA, rather than being a collection of new events. "The limited information provided in the reports prevents the ability to draw any conclusions as to whether the device, or its removal, caused or contributed to any of the events in the reports," Benjamin Fisher, PhD, director of the Reproductive, Gastro-Renal, Urological, General Hospital Device and Human Factors Office in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in an FDA In Brief statement on Aug. 11.

The FDA first uploaded an Essure MDR variance spreadsheet in August 2020, listing 1,453 events, consisting of 53 reports of deaths, 1,376 reports of serious injury, and 24 reports of device malfunction that occurred as of June 2020. In September 2020, FDA uploaded a second variance spreadsheet, which added another 1,934 events that occurred as of July.

Interim Analysis of Postmarketing Surveillance Study

An interim analysis of 1,128 patients from 67 centers in the Essure postmarket surveillance study, which compared women who received Essure with those who received laparoscopic tubal sterilization, revealed that 94.6% (265 of 280 patients) in the Essure group had a successful implantation of the device, compared with 99.6% of women who achieved bilateral tubal occlusion from laparoscopic tubal sterilization.

Regarding safety, 9.1% of women in the Essure group and 4.5% in the laparoscopic tubal sterilization group reported chronic lower abdominal and/or pelvic pain, and 16.3% in the Essure group and 10.2% in the laparoscopic tubal sterilization group reported new or worsening abnormal uterine bleeding. In the Essure group, 22.3% of women said they experienced hypersensitivity, an allergic reaction, and new "autoimmune-like reactions" compared with 12.5% of women in the laparoscopic tubal sterilization group.

The interim analysis also showed 19.7% of women in the Essure group and 3.0% in the laparoscopic tubal sterilization group underwent gynecologic surgical procedures, which were "driven primarily by Essure removal and endometrial ablation procedures in Essure patients." Device removal occurred in 6.8% of women with the Essure device.

Consistent Data on Essure

An FDA search of the Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience (MAUDE) database in January of 2020 revealed 47,856 medical device reports of Essure between November 2002 and December 2019. The most common adverse events observed during this period were:

  • Pain or abdominal pain (32,901 cases).

  • Heavy or irregular menses (14,573 cases). Headache (8,570 cases).

  • Device fragment or foreign body in a patient (8,501 cases).

  • Perforation (7,825 cases).

  • Fatigue (7,083 cases).

  • Gain or loss in weight (5,980 cases).

  • Anxiety and/or depression (5,366 cases).

  • Rash and/or hypersensitivity (5,077 cases)

  • Hair loss (4,999 cases).

Problems with the device itself included reports of:

  • Device incompatibility such as an allergy (7,515 cases).

  • The device migrating (4,535 cases).

  • The device breaking or fracturing (2,297 cases).

  • The device dislodging or dislocating (1,797 cases).

  • Improper operation including implant failure and pregnancy (1,058 cases).

In 2019, Essure received 15,083 medical device reports, an increase from 6,000 reports in 2018 and 11,854 reports in 2017.

To date, nearly 39,000 women in the United States have made claims to injuries related to the Essure device. In August, Bayer announced it would pay approximately $1.6 billion U.S. dollars to settle 90% of these cases in exchange for claimants to "dismiss their cases or not file." Bayer also said in a press release that the settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing or liability on the part of the company.

In an interview, Catherine Cansino, MD, MPH, of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Davis, said the latest adverse event reports show "consistent info from [the] MAUDE database when comparing 2019 to previous years, highlighting most common problems related to pain and heavy or irregular bleeding."

She emphasized ob.gyns with patients who have an Essure device should "consider Essure-related etiology that may necessitate device removal when evaluating patients with gynecological problems, especially with regard to abdominal/pelvic pain and heavy/irregular bleeding."

Cansino reported no relevant financial disclosures. She is a member of the Ob.Gyn. News Editorial Advisory Board.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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