Implanon is a birth control implant placed under the skin of a woman's upper arm. The implant is designed to prevent pregnancy for around three years, and is intended to be retrievable if women decide in the meantime they would like to become pregnant.
Unfortunately for some women, the decision to remove the implant uncovered a horrifying situation in which the Implanon could not be found and therefore could not be retrieved. This means the women are at increased risk of side effects linked to the device migrating throughout their body, and are at a risk of infertility.
In March 2016, the FDA updated Implanon's label to include the risk of device migration. In some cases, if the device can be found surgery may be needed to retrieve it. According to Merck's Implanon label, implants have reportedly been found in blood vessels, including a blood vessel in the lungs (the pulmonary artery).
"Special procedures, including surgery in the hospital, may be needed to remove the implant," Merck's documents state. "If the implant is not removed, then the effects of IMPLANON will continue for a longer period of time."
Other side effects reportedly associated with the Implanon birth control are pain, irritation or bruising at the insertion site, scarring at the insertion site, infection, and implant breakage.
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According to documents filed by the plaintiff, the implant migrated from its original location, a fact that only became apparent after the plaintiff became pregnant. The lawsuit was filed against the maker of the implant and against the doctor who implanted birth control device.