Pharmaceutical

Lawsuits target makers of power morcellators due to cancer spread risk

morcellator Lawsuits target makers of power morcellators due to cancer spread riskDozens of lawsuits have been filed against the makers of a surgical tool used during gynecological surgeries, alleging the devices have caused undiagnosed uterine cancers to spread aggressively, worsening the odds of survival.

The device, known as a power morcellator, is used to perform laparoscopic hysterectomies and myomectomies (uterine fibroid removal). It is fitted with a tube-like blade that minces uterine growths or entire uteruses inside the body and then removes the tissue through a small incision in the abdomen.

Power morcellation procedures have been favored over open surgeries because they are less invasive, leave less scar tissue, and offer shorter recovery. But doctors have found that in women who have a type of uterine cancer known as uterine sarcoma, power morcellation can actually spread cancerous tissue throughout the abdomen and seed new cancer growth. This makes treating the disease more challenging, and worsens survival odds. Unfortunately, there are no reliable ways to diagnose uterine sarcoma before the cancerous tissue is removed.

There are several manufactures of power morcellators. Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon made four different power morcellators but stopped selling the tools after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned of the risk of cancer spread. Other manufacturers who continue to sell the devices include Olympus, Karl Storz, Cook Urological, Smith & Nephew, and LiNA Medical.

The FDA has ordered power morcellator makers to place black box warnings on the labels of the devices warning of the risk of cancer spread. The agency also urged doctors not to use power morcellators on most women due to the risks.

Lawsuits against power morcellator makers claim the companies knew their devices could cause the spread of cancer, but failed to adequately warn doctors or patients of this risk.

Source: Drug Lawsuit Source