Who Do You Trust Your Health With?
People around the world rely on prescription drugs or medical devices to maintain their health and independence. These medical miracles make it possible for patients with lung problems to leave the house, ease symptoms for individuals with anxiety to feel calm in their day-to-day routines, and improve overall quality of life. But there are risks associated with each drug, medical device, and medical procedure. These risks are often minor, and the benefits of the products typically outweighs any side effects or complications that may arise. However, companies like Bayer AG have attempted to hide reports of adverse side effects that have been linked to many of their products. Tens of thousands of reports have surfaced that have exposed the company’s attempts to deceive its customers into thinking the medical devices and prescriptions they rely on are safer. Consumers experience the negative results of these practices firsthand, as the company’s products have caused significant harm to users and Bayer has tried to hide its negligence. Some of the most serious issues are detailed below.
Blood pressure is a common health concern for Americans. While some individuals can manage their blood pressure naturally by limiting their sodium intake and maintaining a healthy diet, that is not possible for all who suffer from atrial fibrillation. For those who need medical assistance to safely lower their blood pressure, an anticoagulant or blood thinner, may be an attractive and healthy solution. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are 2.7 million Americans who take blood thinners annually to help manage their high blood pressure. However, blood thinners can sometimes thin the blood too much, making it equally dangerous to the patient. Hence, most require a safe and accessible antidote to be available when they begin taking the medication, in case of an adverse reaction.
Bayer introduced Xarelto, a once-daily anticoagulant, to the market in 2011. It is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, and saw almost immediate popularity among patients because most other blood thinners had to be taken twice a day. But patients began taking this drug without being made aware that it was approved by the FDA without an antidote. Because there was no available antidote, patients who experienced adverse effects caused by Xarelto suffered from hemophilia-like symptoms, including uncontrollable internal and external bleeding, the inability for their blood to clot, and in extreme cases, death. An antidote was approved in May 2018, but more than 18,000 users still took Bayer and Johnson & Johnson to court after experiencing life-threatening side effects that they believe the pharmaceutical companies knew about.
Medical Devices with Dangerous Side Effects
When choosing a method of female birth control, there are a plethora of options. Because the pill requires daily upkeep to be effective, alternatives such as the intrauterine devices have gained popularity. Furthermore, for women who do not want to have children in the future, there are non-invasive methods of sterilization such as Essure permanent birth control. Both of these birth control devices offer women freedom from a schedule, as Essure was designed to be permanent, and Mirena can last up to five years. However, both of these devices have had more than their fair share of dangerous, painful and severe side effects.
Essure is a permanent female sterilization device that first became available in 2002. It is implanted non-surgically by physicians and was designed to have a short recovery period, sending most women back to their everyday routines within just hours. This was not always the case, however, thousands of women reported persistent pain from the metal coils that never subsided, even years after the device was implanted. Thousands of women also experienced unplanned and unsafe pregnancies, device migration inside the reproductive tract and abdominal cavity, and some women developed such large quantities of scar tissue that they needed complete hysterectomies to be pain-free.
The FDA had also issued a black box warning on the device in 2016, and required patients to complete a risk assessment checklist before they could have the device implanted. This is the most severe warning that the FDA can issue for a product, and indicates that it has potentially life-threatening side effects. Bayer pulled Essure from the United States market in 2019 after years of controversy. The product had been banned in the United Kingdom and Australia in 2017, and all other countries stopped selling the device that same year.
While less permanent than Essure, the Mirena IUD was designed for on-the-go women who do not want the hassle that comes with remembering to take a birth control pill every day. Its T-shape makes it effective at preventing pregnancy, but also makes it possible for the device to pierce the uterine wall and migrate to other parts of the reproductive system and abdominal cavity. When this happens, the device becomes ineffective and leaves users in severe chronic pain and susceptible to scar tissue build up around the device’s new location. Half of the nearly 50,000 reported complaints about Mirena cite expulsion, which is a situation in which the body rejects the IUD. The device is still available on the market, but there have been more than 4,000 lawsuits filed against Bayer for a lack of transparency about the potential side effects of Mirena.
Potentially Cancer-Causing Products
Carcinogen exposure is a common - and rightly justified - worry. People know to protect their skin from sun exposure, limit their contact with sources of radiation, and avoid smoking cigarettes and tobacco. However, there is one extremely dangerous way that countless people are directly exposed to a carcinogen: RoundUp, the most widely-used weed killer in the world. There is a strong correlation between the use of RoundUp and the diagnosis of non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and other forms of fatal cancer.
Created by Monsanto and sold by Bayer since it acquired the agricultural giant in 2018, RoundUp is a widely-used weed killer with a deadly reputation. While active ingredient glyphosate is effective at killing weeds without damaging an entire lawn, this landscaper favorite is killing more than just invasive plants. Despite claims from the company that RoundUp is safe, it has been directly linked to the terminal cancer diagnosis of frequent users of the product. These cases of glyphosate-caused cancer have been so severe and so widespread that Bayer is involved in litigation for more than 10,000 individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer after using RoundUp.
With consumers around the world trusting Bayer with their over the counter medications, prescription drugs, medical devices, pet supplies, and even household cleaning products, there is no excuse for the company to neglect the safety of its customers. Individuals who have been harmed or made ill by these products are not sitting idly by, though. There are currently more than 45,000 pending lawsuits against Bayer, according to its most recent quarterly report. It is imperative that consumers become advocates for their own health and safety, especially when it is not always in the best interests of a corporation to protect its clientele.
By: Bridget Doherty