One day after one of the country’s health boards voted to ban the use of transvaginal mesh use in that country, Scotland’s Health Secretary Alex Neil has requested the use of mesh implants stop in Scotland until an investigation into mesh complications is conducted.
About 1,500 women undergo transvaginal mesh implants in Scotland every year, reports BBC. See their story here.
The suspension would include mesh implants used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. In the U.S. the SUI “tape” is still referred to as the “gold standard” by many doctors and medical societies.
Mr. Neil said he as deeply troubled by the stories he’s heard from campaigners who brought their request to a parliamentary committee last week. The women, many members of Scottish Mesh Survivors, a Facebook group and friends with Mesh News Desk, petitioned a Scottish Parliaments petitions committee and brought their personal stories directly to government regulators.
The U.S. does not have such a direct petitions committee route to members of Congress. Watch the morning session of the Public Petitions Committee here.
BBC reports Mr. Neil said:
“I’ve personally met with women who’ve been adversely affected, and I was deeply troubled to hear how women affected have suffered, and they have my full sympathy and support and we’ll certainly do everything we can to improve the situation.
“No one should have to experience the level of suffering that some of these women have had.”
There are 14 regional health boards in Scotland where the medical system is overseen by the government. Several have already agreed to abide by the request. Others, according to BBC, say they do not use transvaginal mesh to repair prolapse and incontinence.
Mr. Neil said he will ask the country’s chief medical officer Dr. Frances Elliot to contact the health boards to suspend the use of transvaginal mesh until there is a Scottish review. A European Commission investigation into mesh implants is already underway and is due to be released January 2015 (here), the same time an FDA ordered review of the health of implanted women is due from 30 mesh manufacturers.
The actual number of mesh injured women in Scotland and around the world is not known because there is no tracking, either by the FDA or by industry, of mesh-related complications that can include infection, mesh erosion and migration, nerve damage and chronic pain, among other problems. Any reporting to the FDA is entirely voluntary and not closely monitored.
Complication rates for transvaginal mesh could be as high as 30 percent, a number attributed to hernia mesh-related injuries. Transvaginal mesh is made from the same polypropylene fiber.
The BBC (here) has an excellent summary of the events as they have unfolded in Scotland.
Much credit should be given to reporter for the Sunday Mail, Marion Scott who and her editors who has pursued this story with a dedication not seen in U.S. media outlets.
Mesh manufacturers, mostly U.S. based include Ethicon ( Johnson & Johnson), American Medical Systems/ Endo, Boston Scientific, C.R. Bard, Coloplast and Cook. Mesh manufacturers have direct financial ties to U.S. medical societies such as the American Urogynecologic Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which still promote the use of mesh for use in a treatment of stress urinary incontinence.
Public Petitions Committee hearing June 17, 2014
BBC News Coverage
The Evening Telegraph
Mesh News Desk, Scottish Health Board Votes to Ban Transvaginal Mesh, June 16, 2014
Watch the entire hearing on BBC Democracy Live here.
Scottish Petition Here.
Women warn of incontinence implants Watch , 11 March 2014, Scotland
Faulty implants end women’s sex life, 10 March, 2014, Scotland
BBC on Scottish Survivors June 2
Video STV News May 13
Health Minister Scotland Calls for Urgent Review of Controversial Treatment, May 11, 2014
STV News May 13, 2014
Grieving daughter May 18 2014
Scottish Health Neil on Mesh
Health Sec Alex Neil also considering reclassification in the UK
April 2014 Petition to Keep Mesh out of Hospitals, Start an Inquiry
Scottish Mesh Survivors- FB Page
MND – About 400 Scottish Lawsuits- Jan 2014