FDA orders companies to cease all sales of transvaginal mesh for POP repair

View on the News

Alternatives exist, but questions remain

The Food and Drug Administration’s decision ordering manufacturers to remove mesh for transvaginal repair of prolapse from the market was based on the products’ effectiveness and safety profile, compared with vaginal native tissue repairs. Previous studies have shown that polypropylene mesh for anterior repair had similar or slightly higher success, compared with native tissue repairs. This was not a sufficient benefit considering the potential adverse events that include mesh exposure, and the pelvic pain and dyspareunia associated with using these products. There is no additional benefit of using polypropylene mesh in the posterior compartment.

It would be interesting to review the information provided by manufacturers as part of the premarket approval. What were the primary endpoints for efficacy that were used? What were the rates of complications for mesh exposure, pelvic pain, and dyspareunia? How did the rates of pelvic pain and dyspareunia compare with native tissue repair.

Gynecologic surgeons still have a number of options for treating vaginal prolapse, which include vaginal native tissue repairs, and laparoscopic and abdominal surgeries that involve native tissue or polypropylene mesh. It will be interesting to see how the FDA’s Medical Device Safety action plan will affect future innovations for treating vaginal prolapse, while at the same time providing women and their physicians with products that are safe and effective.

Jose S. Maceda, MD, is a urogynecologist at Axia Women’s Health in King of Prussia, Penn. Dr. Maceda, who was asked to comment on the FDA decision, has no relevant financial disclosures.


The Food and Drug Administration has ordered companies to immediately cease selling transvaginal mesh intended for pelvic organ prolapse (POP) repair.

FDA icon Wikimedia Commons/FitzColinGerald/Creative Commons License

The mandate came after Boston Scientific and Coloplast failed to provide adequate safety and efficacy information to the federal regulatory body in the wake of a 2016 reclassification to Class III (high-risk) devices, according to an FDA press statement. Both companies were required to submit a premarket approval application to continue marketing the mesh in the United States. Boston Scientific did file two PMAs, one for each of its transvaginal mesh products, but the FDA said the applications did not contain the required efficacy and safety data.

Both companies will have 10 days to submit their plan to withdraw these products from the market.

“In order for these mesh devices to stay on the market, we determined that we needed evidence that they worked better than surgery without the use of mesh to repair POP. That evidence was lacking in these premarket applications, and we couldn’t assure women that these devices were safe and effective long term,” said Jeffrey Shuren, MD, director of FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Patient safety is our highest priority, and women must have access to safe medical devices that provide relief from symptoms and better management of their medical conditions. The FDA has committed to taking forceful new actions to enhance device safety and encourage innovations that lead to safer medical devices, so that patients have access to safe and effective medical devices and the information they need to make informed decisions about their care.”

The deadline for submitting premarket approval applications for POP repair with transvaginal mesh was July 5, 2018. Manufacturers that did not file PMAs were required to pull their devices from the market. Those that did could keep selling the mesh while FDA reviewed their PMAs.

Boston Scientific submitted PMAs for its two devices, the Uphold LITE Vaginal Support System and the Xenform Soft Tissue Repair System. Coloplast filed a PMA for its device, Restorelle DirectFix Anterior. But in February, the FDA convened an advisory panel to discuss just how to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the products.

To prove efficacy, the panel concluded, transvaginal POP repair with mesh should be better than repair with native tissue at 36 months, and the safety should be superior to repair with native tissue repair. The FDA agreed. However, the submitted premarket approval application did not include these kinds of data. Therefore, the agency declined to approve the devices.

In addition to stopping U.S. sales, FDA has required Boston Scientific and Coloplast to continue safety and efficacy follow-up of all women included in their 522 studies.

Coloplast did not have a press or public statement on its website as of April 16. Boston Scientific did have one.

“Up to 50% of women in the U.S. will suffer from POP during their lives, and we believe these women should have access to safe and effective treatment options,” according to the statement. “As a global leader in the pelvic floor space, we remain steadfast in our commitment to helping women live better and healthier lives. We also remain confident in the benefits and safety of our treatments for POP, and we look forward to continuing to work with the FDA on our PMAs for the Uphold LITE Vaginal Support System and the Xenform Soft Tissue Repair Matrix, which are currently under review.”

The FDA statement also included advice to women who have had the mesh procedure for POP, and for their physicians

“Women who have had transvaginal mesh placed for the surgical repair of POP should continue with their annual and other routine check-ups and follow-up care. There is no need to take additional action if they are satisfied with their surgery and are not having complications or symptoms. Patients should notify their health care professionals if they have complications or symptoms, including persistent vaginal bleeding or discharge, pelvic or groin pain, or pain with sex. They should also let their health care professional know if they have surgical mesh, especially if they plan to have another surgery or other medical procedures. Women who were planning to have mesh placed transvaginally for the repair of POP should discuss other treatment options with their doctors.”

[email protected]

Next Article: