Federal Health Minister issues national apology over transvaginal mesh implants

Amanda Lyons

10/10/2018 2:19:01 PM

Minister Hunt tells women who have suffered as a result of the implants, ‘Your voice has been heard, and not just heard but acted upon’.

L–R: Lawyer Rebecca Jancauskas standing with Gai Thompson, Joanne Maninon and Carina Anderson, who are part of a class action against Johnson & Johnson. (Image: Paul Miller)
L–R: Lawyer Rebecca Jancauskas standing with Gai Thompson, Joanne Maninon and Carina Anderson, who are part of a class action against Johnson & Johnson. (Image: Paul Miller)

Many women in Australia who were already traumatised by severe injury sustained during childbirth – an estimated 10,000–15,000 – have been further traumatised by a material proposed for use as a surgical solution to their problems: transvaginal mesh.
The Senate launched an inquiry earlier this year into the use of transvaginal mesh implants in Australia, and its final report delivered a scathing assessment of the health system’s failure to protect women from the implants’ catastrophic effects. Meanwhile, more than 700 women have launched a class action against Johnson & Johnson, manufacturer of transvaginal mesh products.
The Federal Government is today due to table a response to the Senate Inquiry, and Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has acknowledged the debilitating effects of the mesh with a national apology.
‘On behalf of the Australian Government, I say sorry to all of those women with the historic agony and pain that has come from mesh implantation which have led to horrific outcomes,’ he told the ABC.
Patient groups have advocated for compulsory reporting by all health practitioners of side-effects of any implantable devices. However, Minister Hunt has stated that although the Government is supportive of this measure, it lacks the powers to impose it on the states and territories. Instead, it proposes a voluntary national register to become operable in 2019.
The Government will also make further proposals at the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments, which will include the creation of permanent Medicare payment items for the removal and treatment of pelvic mesh, and asking the states and territories to conduct and audit of pelvic mesh products.
Minister Hunt does not anticipate resistance from the states and territories to these recommendations, saying that, ‘Too many women have suffered too much for too long’.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has banned the use of transvaginal mesh products for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse, but select mesh products remain available for use for other conditions, albeit only by qualified surgeons.
However, many women and consumer health groups would like to see mesh products banned altogether until their safety can be conclusively proven.

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Login to comment   15/01/2019 2:57:44 AM

Amended. Trying to find a surgeon in Australia who offers to repair inguinal hernias without using mesh is like searching for the proverbial unicorn. The only one I've found so far is John Garvey in Sydney, but I'm in Far North Queensland.

What a joke. Guess we're gonna have to wait for another Australia Senate Inquiry in twenty years time on the dangers of prosthetic mesh in the repair of inguinal hernias before anything changes in Oz.

Guess how many Australian surgeons offer the Desarda mesh-free technique for the repair of inguinal hernias? Yep — none. In NZ, with a fraction of our population, there are two.