Nationwide Health Insurer to Stop Covering Power Morcellator Surgery on Sept. 1
A U.S. health insurer announced this week it would no longer cover power morcellator surgeries that are aided by a bladed device suggested to promote the spread of life-threatening uterine cancers, according to Reuters.com.
The decision from Highmark Inc. will affect customers residing in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia, the company said on August 2nd, and will involve laparoscopic hysterectomy and fibroid removal procedures that incorporate the surgery tool. Power morcellators are designed to cut up uterine tissue so that it can be more easily extracted through a tiny incision. Highmark is the first insurer to end coverage of uterine morcellation procedures after a public health alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April advised doctors against conducting them, the Wall Street Journal reported the day of the company’s announcement.
According to the FDA warning in April, approximately 1 in every 350 women undergoing fibroid removals has uterine sarcoma or another uterine cancer prior to surgery, that may not be detected until after fibroids are removed and biopsied. Since then, court documents indicate that numerous power morcellator lawsuit claims have been filed in the U.S.
J&J Takes Ethicon’s Power Morcellator Devices off the Market
Less than a week before Highmark announced its ban on power morcellator coverage, Johnson & Johnson issued a “worldwide market withdrawal” of all devices marketed by its subsidiary, Ethicon Inc. The healthcare giant said on July 30th that it would be asking doctors to return devices that were purchased before its morcellator sales suspension that April.
Decisions from Johnson & Johnson and Highmark were announced amid growing morcellator concerns from the FDA and medical community at large. On July 22nd, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 1 in 368 women having fibroids removed may have undiagnosed uterine cancer, and that 32 percent of patients with these tumors were younger than 50.
At the start of July, the FDA’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Devices Panel met to discuss whether power morcellators should remain on the market, or if they pose significant danger to all patients. The decision remained unresolved after the meeting on July 10th and 11th, however, as some panelists argued in favor of the devices, while others said they were likely to harm women.
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Women who may have been diagnosed with life-threatening uterine cancer after a power morcellator surgery should consider calling our Firm for more information about filing a lawsuit: (877) 779-1414.