Johnson and Johnson (J&J) announced in July 2014 that it would issue a worldwide withdraw of its Ethicon morcellator devices due to the potential risk of spreading undiagnosed cancer.
J&J made the decision after a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that one in 368 women undergoing a hysterectomy or myomectomy to remove uterine fibroids have undetected uterine cancer that can spread to other parts of the body during morcellation.
J&J’s Ethicon morcellator recall was announced in 2014, but records indicate that J&J may have known about the hidden risk of cancer acceleration since 2006, according to The Pittsburgh Business Times.
Pennsylvania pathologist Dr. Robert Lamparter contacted J&J in 2006 and asked that they “reconsider the risk to the patient” from the use of morcellators. Lamparter advised that pre-op uterus screenings prior to morcellation is not always effective and that a certain number of carcinoma is missed.
Power morcellation slices the uterus or uterine fibroids into fragments so they can be removed through a laparoscopic incision. Cancerous cells minced by the morcellator could potentially be spread throughout the body and expedite cancer, which can jeopardize the patient’s chance for survival.
A representative from Ethicon advised Lamparter in April 2006 that a warning would be added to the device’s instructions, but a May 2006 letter from Ethicon’s World Wide Customer Quality department dismissed Lamparter’s complaint, the Pittsburgh Business Journal reported.
For eight years, J&J knew there was a chance morcellation could spread unsuspected cancer, but the public was still not warned. The company’s decision may have put thousands of women at a serious health risk.
J&J must be held accountable for the damages caused by Ethicon morcellator devices. Women who were diagnosed with cancer after undergoing uterine morcellation may be eligible to seek compensation by filing a morcellation cancer lawsuit. Contact a lawyer to discuss your legal options.