The medical, insurance and legal industries continue to reflect on the impact of Johnson & Johnson’s voluntary withdrawal of power morcellators from the market. While the medical establishment is responding with more studies and calls for ending the use of the procedure, insurance companies are leading the charge by ending coverage.
According to an article by Reuters, Highmark Inc., a Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliated U.S. health insurer, has decided to stop coverage of power morcellation procedures effective September 1, 2014. In response to mounting concerns about the procedures spreading uterine cancer, the health insurer has decided to withdraw coverage from the procedure.
The popular laparoscopic power morcellation procedure is used by surgeons as a non-invasive alternative to standard and traditional surgical methods of removing the uterus or growths in the uterus. The growths, called fibroids, can sometimes be undetected cancer masses.
When power morcellators are used to cut up pieces of the uterus and extract them through the abdomen the device can spread cancerous cells throughout the abdomen and pelvic region. These concerns prompted a safety alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Additionally, Johnson & Johnson withdrew the devices from the market in order to study the risks further. As the evidence against the safety of the devices mounts, it is likely that insurance companies will begin to aggressively review and drop coverage for power morcellation procedures.
In the meantime, women who have already been diagnosed with uterine cancer after going through a power morcellation procedure will need to speak with experienced legal counsel. For more details about the cancer risks associated with power morcellation procedures, contact our firm.