Justine Watson, ABC News AU

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, October 10, 2018 ~ Around The World: Mesh Inquiry in Australia is making front page news, but newly formed consumer group says “Sorry” isn’t enough.

Mesh Should Be Last Resort – Too Little Too Late, Say Critics

Unlike the United States where mesh injuries never had the widespread headlines of faulty breast implants or metal-on-metal hips, Australia and the UK have made transvaginal mesh (TVM) and its “Scandal” front page news.

Now the Australian government is apologizing to women hurt by the “horrific” transvaginal mesh (TVM) scandal and the health minister is acknowledging decades of harm to implanted women as the government move to make TVM a last resort.

Greg Hunt AU Health Minister, The Guardian

BBC Reports Health Minister Greg Hunt issued a statement Wednesday:

On behalf of the Australian government, I say sorry to all of those women with the historic agony and pain that has come from mesh implantation which have led to horrific outcomes.  This has been an issue, over some decades in many cases, and on our time and our watch.”

The newly formed Mesh Injured Australia Incorporated asks, “How is “Sorry” going to help Aussie mesh injured mums?

“After waiting a distressing six months for the Government’s official response to the Senate Inquiry’s report and recommendations, Australian women acknowledge Minister Hunt’s apology this morning; it proportionally validates the 20 years of pain and suffering for thousands of women. It does not compensate for women feeling like an insignificant priority.” 

 Instead the group wants to see a ban similar to the one imposed in Scotland on all POP (pelvic organ prolapse) and SUI (stress urinary incontinence) mesh implants in Australia.

 

MESH INJURED AUSTRALIA (MIA)

Dr. Veronikis and Justine Watson, ABC News

Mesh Injured Australia Inc. (MIA) has applied to be the first legitimate charity that can take donations. Mental health worker, Justine Watson tells MND they plan to raise funds through grants, and be one voice for citizens injured by polypropylene mesh both pelvic and hernia.

Ms. Watson is joined by mesh-injured women, Andrea Walter and Kim Blieschke. They announced the formation of their group on August 14, 2018 in a Mesh Injured Australia Media Release.

They have already put together a website and logo. Created a toll free national hotline 1800 MESHED  (1800 637 433) and have mesh injured volunteers. The three founders have paid all the bills themselves so far.

They will help injured obtain their hospital records and make an adverse event report, then put them into support groups.

Have they identified doctors who can help?

“As a registered charity we can’t give advice, that why we can put people in support groups to get help.   I’m a mental health care worker for 20 years.   What we are about is empowering people to get the best help for themselves.”

The group has met with the shadow health minister in New South Wales and plan to reach out to a new group each month trying to forge alliances with other women’s organization that focus on chronic health and pain in Australia.

“It’s very frustrating what I keep in mind always women are in such pain and it’s difficult to mobilize an unwell community. And they’re lost faith in humanity because of how they’ve been treated. “

Watson envisions patient-centered care facilities, co-designed by patients to accommodate mesh complications and full removals if required.

On the government inquiry, Watson says

Women have been left feeling like they’ve been raped by the health system and abused again when they’ve sought the help they were promised,” according to Watson.

Watson made a trip to St. Louis to have Dr. Veronikis remover her mesh last year, seven years after she was implanted.

 

BACKGROUND ON AUSTRALIA

Sen. Derryn Hinch, The Australian

Senator Derryn Hinch has called the implantation of high risk pelvic mesh “one of the greatest medical scandals and abuses of mothers in Australia’s history.”

A Senate report identifies failures in the health system for the catastrophic results making 13 recommendation to enhance safety and transparency for patients and doctors.  It lists the 13 recommendations among them strengthening premarket assessment of mesh, identifying them as high risk,  encouraging enhanced post-market surveillance, including a new Medicare item to support a mesh removal and a new information site on mesh through the new Therapeutic Goods Administration or TGA.

A government response to the Senate report was issued October 10, 2018. It thanks women who presented at public hearings for presenting their “deeply private and frequently traumatic experiences.”

It also calls for mandatory reporting by doctors of complications, a registry for all implantable medical devices and an assessment of payments to doctors to encourage the use of mesh. Mesh makers are known to hire consultants or “preceptors” to encourage the use of polypropylene mesh among his peers.

It recommends pelvic mesh be a last resort and that information be provided to patients as well as full informed consent.

“There’s been no studies done, there’s no data and women are having to educate health workers about the complications they’re experiencing.  It’s a re-traumatization for them to have to explain what has happened, when it was the health system’s failures that led to their injuries.” ~ Justine Watson

Women injured by mesh are encouraged to fill out their TGA adverse event reports so the government can get an accurate assessment of the many injuries.  Check the Facebook group here.

MESH TRIAL

Outside federal court, Sydney, AU

In Australia, a massive trial of 700 women who blame Johnson & Johnson for their faulty mesh implants, wrapped up in March. The judge in the class action case will render her decision next March.

Australia litigation differs from the U.S. in that one judge, rather than a jury, listens to both sides and renders her decision. It can take months to present, as the current litigation underway in Sydney, AU. Ultimately it is the government who pays for injuries, not the mesh manufacturers who made the defective products.

It’s estimated about 150,000 Australian women received polypropylene mesh implants over the last 20 years to treat pelvic organ prolapse or incontinence.

In the U.S., multidistrict litigation which consolidated cases into one federal court, is being whittled down through settlements or dismissals.  The court in Charleston, WV at one time had a high of 104,000 defective product cases filed.     ###

 

LEARN MORE:

Australian Government Department of Health Therapeutic Goods Administration, October 10, 2018 Committee Report with recommendations
https://www.tga.gov.au/australian-government-response-senate-community-affairs-references-committee-report

Senate Inquiry AU, March 2018
https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/MeshImplants/Report

The Newcastle Herald Coverage on mesh by Joanne McCarthy https://www.theherald.com.au/story/3795734/pelvic-mesh-suffer-in-silence/?cs=5507

Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/groups/AustralianPelvicSupportGroup/

Mesh Injured Australia
http://meshinjuredaustralia.org.au/

Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group – APMSG (closed group)

Mesh Injured Australia Inc Facebook Group (public group)

Carers & Families of Mesh Injured Australians (closed facebook group)