Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) withdrew power morcellators from the market last week following a warning by US regulators that the surgical tool may spread cancer in women. The hysterectomy device was used to shave uterine tissue into tiny pieces that could then be extracted without surgery.
The withdrawal means that Johnson & Johnson is no longer the largest manufacturer of morcellators in the US. The decision sent a strong signal to doctors who have been using the product about the potential dangers from its usage, possibly triggering a domino effect as other manufacturers may decide to follow in the company’s footsteps.
The American multinational does not disclose its morcellator sales; however, they constitute a small part of the company’s healthcare business. The FDA estimates that the tool is used in about 50,000 hysterectomies carried out in the year. A study from Columbia University revealed that one in 368 women had a hidden uterine cancer that could be spread by a morcellator.
The operation, performed to remove fibroids, was among the methods exercised to relieve women of heavy menstrual bleeding and stomach pain troubles. The absence of the morcellator could leave women with fewer options, with surgery being one of them. Recovery times may be longer but, according to doctors, would lower the risk of cancer. Meanwhile, some doctors argue that women, who are at low risk of cancer and have been advised about the dangers linked to the device’s usage, should be able to opt for the procedure.
Johnson & Johnson’s decision is expected to hasten the pace of recalls of morcellators in the market. The company took the step following 5,000 law suits that were filed against it nationwide over the use of the device.