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Intrauterine devices, commonly known as IUDs, are a highly effective form of birth control, with more than a 99% success rate. IUDs are inserted at the base of the uterus and held in place by an arm on each side. They work by releasing either copper or hormones to prevent pregnancy. While many don’t experience complications from these devices, women across the country have emerged with injuries caused by the Paragard IUD breaking upon removal. 

The Paragard intrauterine device is made of plastic and copper and doesn’t require hormones like its counterparts. Instead, the copper released by the IUD causes an inflammatory reaction that kills sperm and eggs. The use of copper means there is no associated weight gain and mood swings that hormonal IUDs may cause. 

The lawsuits against Teva Pharmaceuticals and The Cooper Companies, former and current owners of Paragard, claim that the arms of the device fractured during removal. Pieces of the IUD break off and embeds in the uterus and other organs, and in some cases perforates the uterus. As a result, the plaintiffs have experienced abdominal pain, pelvic inflammation, infection, and even infertility. They claim that they and their doctors weren’t properly warned of the possibility of device breakage, a result of the plastic arms becoming brittle and inflexible over the time it’s implanted.

In December 2020, over 50 of the Paragard lawsuits consolidated into a multi-district litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Georgia. MDLs are common when the plaintiffs of lawsuits have similar claims of injuries from the same product. This allows pretrial proceedings to occur in one court, improving efficiency for discovery and could result in a potential settlement for those who are part of the MDL. 

Side Effects and Risks of IUDs

Like all medications and medical devices, there are both minor and serious side effects and risks. For intrauterine devices, women may experience cramps, bleeding between periods, and heavy bleeding during menstruation. There’s also the risk of ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), uterine perforation, and the IUD breaking, though these are less common. 

IUDs are the most-used reversible contraceptive in the world. Part of their popularity is how long they last and the ease in which they’re used compared to taking a daily pill, the patch or monthly shot. Depending on the type, IUDs can be effective and left in the uterus for anywhere from 3 to 10 years, with copper offering the longest lifespan. There are currently five IUDs available in the United States, and Paragard is the only copper option.

A History of Defective IUDs

This is not the first time defective products involving forms of birth control have resulted in lawsuits. In the 1970s, defects in the Dalkon Shield IUD led to at least 200,000 women who came forward with injuries suffered because of the device. This far-reaching lawsuit involved serious health problems, including PID, infertility, and death, and caused a sharp decline in IUD usage in the U.S. for many years to come. Most recently, there were over 4,000 claimants who settled with Bayer for the complications related to the hormonal IUD, Mirena. In this case, women experienced organ perforation and device migration and embedment. A $12.2 million settlement was reached in 2018. 

Teva Pharmaceuticals has faced litigation in the past. In 2016, a woman required surgery to remove pieces of Paragard from her uterus after it broke upon removal, but her case was dismissed. However, the number of women who came forward over the past year with similar experiences and complications continues to grow. Whether Teva Pharmaceuticals and The Cooper Companies are deemed culpable is unknown at this time, but the lawsuit has grown steadily and gained momentum.

If you or someone you know has been injured due to a Paragard IUD, the team at Childers, Schlueter and Smith can help. Contact us here or give us a call at 1-800-641-0098 for a free consultation or more information. 

 

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