FDA Advisory Panel to Discuss Safety of Transvaginal Mesh
Bloomberg reports that transvaginal mesh lawsuits are on the rise, and that a two-day hearing on their safety and effectiveness will begin tomorrow. An advisory panel “won’t take any formal votes,” but the “FDA will poll the panel of researchers and physicians on whether to reclassify the devices and gather thoughts on how to conduct clinical studies.”
Transvaginal mesh was approved as a moderate risk device under the FDA’s controversial 510(k) process. The FDA’s 510(k) process allows for a medical device to be approved for market without clinical data if it is deemed “substantially equivalent” to products already on the market. This “substantially equivalent” approval condition has been criticized as overly lax and responsible for public health nightmares such as DePuy’s recalled ASR hip implant.
Transvaginal mesh failures were cited in the U.S. Institute of Medicine’s July review of the FDA’s medical device approval and their recommendation that the process be replaced with a stricter system. Opponents of transvaginal mesh allege that the mesh products, currently classified as moderate risk devices, expose patients to higher risks than non-mesh products, and ask that transvaginal mesh be recalled and reclassified as a high risk device.
Previously reported in Bloomberg, the FDA issued a transvaginal mesh safety warning in July 2011, stating that it has received “1,503 reports of complication associated with the material from January 2008 to December 2010.” It is in response to these widespread reports of complications that the FDA is considering a change in risk classification.