Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Johnson & Johnson is withdrawing laparoscopic power morcellators that can spread cancer in women, which effectively removes the device’s largest manufacturer from the market. This decision comes after the debate over the tool agitated the gynecological field for months.
In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised doctors not to use the tool due to increased cancer risk in women, which caused Johnson & Johnson to suspend sales of new morcellators. Despite the suspension, Johnson & Johnson defended the safety of the tool but said it was waiting for more guidance from the medical community.
The FDA’s recent action in forcing morcellators off the market highlights the danger of the devices. In the name of cosmetic benefit (smaller scars) and some minimal shortening of recovery time after surgery, women have been exposed to the potential fatal spread of cancer throughout their abdomens.
Laparoscopic power morcellators have been used to surgically remove common uterine masses called fibroids, and uteruses themselves by slicing them up into fragments. The FDA has estimated the tool was being used in 50,000 hysterectomies a year. They were also commonly used for removing fibroids alone.
However, cancers called sarcomas can be diagnosed as benign fibroids and can’t be reliably detected before surgery. Using a power morcellator can inadvertently spread malignancies and other diseased tissues inside the body, possibly worsening outcomes.
If you or someone you know has undergone a laparoscopic power morcellation and now face a cancer diagnosis, feel free to contact us for a free consultation with our experienced medical device litigation team, which includes a full-time legal nurse consultant.