Morcellation Makers Face Lawsuits; Aetna Drops Insurance Coverage
Manufacturers of power morcellators are facing mounting woes as patients file product liability lawsuits across the U.S. and at least one major insurance company narrows its coverage of treatments with the device.
The latest court actions came in Pennsylvania, where two women filed near-identical lawsuits against Olympus America on Thursday, claiming they were injured by the firm’s PlasmaSORD bipolar morcellator. Olympus should have known of the risks before the 2009 and 2010 surgeries to treat uterine fibroids, the plaintiffs say.
The Olympus cases are only two of a growing number of lawsuits against manufacturers since the FDA warned that using morcellators to remove uterine tissue could spread cancer. Karl Storz Endoscopy-America was sued in a California court on May 13, while a New Orleans woman filed suit in Louisiana federal court against Ethicon Endo-Surgery and its parent Johnson & Johnson on April 22.
All of the cases seek damages related to the spread of cancer caused by the procedure. In the California case, a woman died and her daughters have filed wrongful death charges.
Insurers also are stepping back on morcellation. Aetna, the nation’s third-largest insurance company, announced earlier this month that it will no longer cover the routine use of power morcellators.
The FDA required a black box warning on the devices in December 2014 after an advisory panel concluded they might not be safe. J&J recalled its Morcelex version last summer.
— Elizabeth Orr