Senate inquiry hands down scathing report on transvaginal mesh implants

Paul Hayes

29/03/2018 1:22:25 PM

The often-severe adverse effects stemming from the use of controversial transvaginal mesh implants in Australia represent a ‘catastrophic failure’ to protect women, according to a withering report.

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Gai Thompson, who was a member of the class action against mesh manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, has called the senate inquiry ‘a welcome step forward for sufferers like me’.

‘We feel that women have been let down by their doctors, by the manufacturers of mesh and by the TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration] as the regulator,’ the Senate Community Affairs References Inquiry report ‘Number of women in Australia who have had transvaginal mesh implants and related matters’ found.
‘For the women who have been affected, it has had life-changing and lifelong consequences,’ Chair of the Community Affairs References Committee, Senator Rachel Siewert, said.
The Senate inquiry was undertaken after hundreds of Australian women reported serious pain and side effects from the use of transvaginal mesh implants, including incontinence, dyspareunia, severe chronic pain and even trouble walking.
Senator Derryn Hinch, a member of the inquiry, called the issues arising from the use of transvaginal mesh implants, ‘one of the greatest medical scandals and abuses of mothers in our country’s history’.
In conveying its findings, the report made a number of key recommendations, including:

  • specialist counselling programs to assist women who have sustained injuries following transvaginal mesh procedures
  • implementing mandatory reporting of adverse events by medical practitioner
  • providing women with guidance on what constitutes an adverse event
  • the establishment of a national register of medical devices
  • information and helplines for women who have received transvaginal mesh implants.
Transvaginal mesh is a form of urogynaecological mesh surgically implanted via an incision in the vagina in order to address pelvic floor conditions. A synthetic net-like substance, the mesh is designed to provide extra support for the repair of weakened and damaged internal tissue. Holes in the material are intended to allow body tissues to grow into the mesh.
The report featured many personal examples of how the implants had affected women’s health and quality of life. In its submission to the inquiry, the Women's Health and Research Institute of
Australia (WHRIA) said many women who are in distress as a result of transvaginal mesh pain have reported that ‘[their] suffering is so profound, that often words cannot convey the degree of human suffering we are seeing’.
‘I don’t make plans anymore, I don’t go out much, I live a very reclusive life because I am embarrassed of my symptoms that I have been left with from these implants,’ one woman said.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) banned the use of transvaginal mesh implants in November 2017 in the wake of so many women coming forward with stories of severe pain and side effects.

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