Women who had uterine cancer after a hysterectomy or fibroid surgery could be eligible for a big settlement from Johnson & Johnson.
Morcellators are tools used in minimally-invasive surgery. They look like a wand with spinning blades on the tip that slice the uterus into tiny pieces.
All of the lawsuits were filed by women who were diagnosed with uterine sarcoma after a morcellator was used in their hysterectomy or fibroid surgery.
They say Johnson & Johnson failed to warn that morcellators can accelerate the growth of undiagnosed cancer by “seeding” tumors throughout the abdomen. The devices had no surgical bag to contain tissue.
Because there were no trials or big jury verdicts, some women may have never realized a morcellator was responsible for upstaging their cancer.
Morcellators were used in about 70,000 hysterectomies per year until recently, which means approximately 200 patients had undiagnosed cancer. About 1,600 women are diagnosed with uterine sarcoma every year.
The devices now have a “Black Box” warning label — the strongest warning the FDA can require — and the agency says morcellators should not be used in the “vast majority” of women due to cancer.
The problem is that about 1 in 350 women with fibroids also has undiagnosed uterine cancer. Both conditions have similar symptoms, but there is no way of knowing if a fibroid is cancerous until after it is removed from the body.
When a morcellator accidentally cuts up cancer, it can spread tumors throughout the abdomen and greatly worsen her chances of long-term survival. Johnson & Johnson pulled their morcellators off the market in 2014, but never issued any recalls.
Source: Wall Street Journal