New Zealand bans vaginal mesh over safety fears

New Zealand has banned the use of vaginal mesh for the repair of prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.

The country’s medical watchdog, Medsafe, said the mesh will be removed from supply by early January following safety concerns with the devices.

The decision comes after Australia became the first country to restrict the use of mesh in prolapse surgery.

Medsafe said: “As a consequence of the Australian TGA review of surgical mesh for urogynaecological use, and subsequent regulatory action, there is a case for Medsafe to question the safety of certain devices.”

Titles screen for mesh scandal special report.
Video: Special report: The mesh scandal

Vaginal mesh implants have been the subject of growing controversy after thousands of women said the mesh has left them in chronic pain, unable to work or unable to have sex.

One of the problems is that mesh, which is made out of polypropylene plastic, can erode, stiffen and slice through organs like the bladder.

Earlier this month, vaginal mesh campaigner Chrissy Brajcic died from sepsis after a four-year battle. It is reported that the sepsis had been caused by her mesh implant, which gave her recurrent infections.

CHAIR, ALL-PARTY PARLIAMENTARY GROUP ON SURGICAL MESH IMPLANTS OWEN SMITH MP
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Owen Smith, who set up an all-party parliamentary group on the mesh implants, said the news was a “significant step forward”.

The MP added: “New Zealand is the first country to declare that the risks for women of all pelvic operations using mesh far outweigh the benefits and have acted on that conclusion with a ban on mesh from next year.

“That is precisely what we have been calling for here in the UK and we now need our ministers, regulatory authorities and medical professions to show similar leadership and ban mesh in the UK.”

The Sling the Mesh campaign group now has more than 3,000 members
Image: A Sling the Mesh campaign group now has more than 3,000 members

The UK regulator the MHRA says that mesh implants are effective for the majority of women and in an interview with Sky News earlier this year said: “There was no evidence from a regulatory point of view that mesh devices were inherently unsafe.”

The MHRA insist the complication rate of vaginal mesh implants is between 1-3%. That’s despite latest NHS figures obtained by Sky News showing it to be at least 10%.

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Vaginal mesh has also been the subject of huge litigation around the world.

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Medical professionals have told Sky News that the scale of the problem is worse than the Thalidomide scandal and Professor Carl Heneghan, an expert in evidence-based medicine, claimed many of the devices had no clinical trials.

The UK medical watchdog, NICE, is expected to recommend mesh be banned for prolapse surgery when it publishes updated guidelines later this month.

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