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Plaintiffs File Two Class-Action Cook IVC Filter Lawsuits in Canada

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As the number of Cook IVC filter lawsuits continue to increase in the U.S., plaintiffs in Canada are also seeking compensation for injuries allegedly caused by the medical devices.

According to CTV News, two class-action lawsuits have been filed against Cook Medical in Canada. The plaintiffs assert similar claims as those raised by plaintiffs in the U.S.¬—that the devices were defectively designed, and caused significant injuries.

All federally filed Cook IVC lawsuits in the U.S. were consolidated into one court in the Southern District of Indiana in October 2014.

Plaintiff Stuck with a Cook IVC Filter Inside Her for Life

Wendy Kopeck is the representative plaintiff in the first Cook IVC filter class-action lawsuit. She was implanted with the filter in August 2013. It was supposed to help prevent a pulmonary embolism (PE), which is a blood clot in the lung.

A small, cage-like device, the Cook IVC filter is placed into the inferior vena cava, the main vein that returns blood from the legs back to the heart and lungs. The Cook IVC filter is designed to trap blood clots that otherwise would become lodged in the lungs, causing potentially life-threatening conditions. The device is meant to be temporary, and to be removed after the danger of PE has passed.

According to the plaintiffs, when Kopeck went in to have her filter removed, however, her doctors determined that it would be too risky to do so. A PET scan revealed that the filter had fractured, with one of its “legs” penetrating the plaintiff’s internal jugular vein. The remaining parts of the device had migrated into the small intestines. To remove it at that point would present more danger to Kopeck than leaving it be.

Kopeck will now have to take anticoagulant medications for the rest of her life to reduce the risk of clotting, and will have to live with the device inside her. She told CTV News that she feared that at any moment, a piece of the filter could break off and move to her heart, where it could kill her. She seeks $200 million in damages for the entire class, claiming that Cook Medical failed to warn about the dangerous risks of using their device.

Second Plaintiff Has Undergone Two Failed Surgeries to Remove IVC Filter

The second case was filed by Arie Kuiper of Ontario. He asserts similar claims to Kopeck’s, stating that after being implanted with a Cook IVC filter, he ended up stuck with it. His doctors have made two attempts to remove the device, but were unsuccessful. He was scheduled to undergo a third attempt, because he has been experiencing dizzy spells that may be related to the device’s position and its potential to block blood flow.

Kuiper seeks $500,000 for each person in the class, as well as $20 million in damages.

Researchers Reveal Safety Issues in IVC Filter Studies

Researchers published a study in 2014 that evaluated the safety and efficacy of IVC filters over a four-year period. They identified 91 patients who were followed for 16.3 months. A total of 68 percent of them experienced one or more filter-related complication.

According to researchers, “IVC filter use in our study was associated with a substantial rate of complications including thrombotic complications.”

In a recent 2015 study, researchers compared patients with pulmonary embolism who were treated with both blood-thinning drugs and an IVC, with those who received only blood-thinning drugs. They found that the filters did not offer any additional protection against recurrent pulmonary embolism at three months than those who only received the blood thinners.

“These findings do not support the use of this type of filter in patients who can be treated with anticoagulation,” the researchers wrote.