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Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Page: 9631

Transvaginal Mesh

Senator HINCH (Victoria) (14:39): My question is to Senator Fierravanti-Wells, representing the Minister for Health. This time last year, I gave an adjournment speech where I called transvaginal mesh 'the biggest medical scandal for Australian women since thalidomide'. At public hearings this year, we've heard countless stories of women whose lives have been destroyed by mesh, which was used as a miracle solution for both pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. Late last week, we were informed that transvaginal mesh had been removed from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods for the treatment of POP. Will the government also ban the use of mesh for stress urinary incontinence?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South WalesMinister for International Development and the Pacific) (14:40): I thank Senator Hinch for that question. We have been monitoring urogynecological meshes since 2008 and we have been continuing to provide information on our website for the public and health professionals. On 28 November, the TGA published a statement advising the public of further regulatory action in response to a review of new information. A list of cancelled and current devices was included. Information that has been published in the past, in 2016 and 2017, has changed the risk-benefit profile to 'unfavourable' for devices used transvaginally for pelvic organ prolapse and many incision slings for stress urinary incontinence. If a patient has an implanted urogynecological mesh causing any symptoms, including pain, or if a patient has concerns about any implanted device, they should contact their surgeon. Senator Hinch, I'm happy to take on notice more details in relation to your specific question. I'm only able, at this point, to provide you with general information, but I'm happy to take the details on notice.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Hinch, do you have a supplementary question?

Senator HINCH (Victoria) (14:41): Our committee investigation—and thanks to Senator Siewert for her cooperation with that committee—heard from women who were lobbying the government for years and years to remove mesh from the TGA. Why has it taken a Senate inquiry for these women to be taken seriously and for the mesh to be banned?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South WalesMinister for International Development and the Pacific) (14:41): Thank you, Senator Hinch. On 15 February, the Senate referred to the Community Affairs References Committee an inquiry regarding the number of women in Australia who have had transvaginal mesh implants and related matters. Very good evidence, I understand, has been taken by that committee. It's a committee that I know very well, and it's worked, no doubt, very, very hard on this inquiry. I understand that a report is expected to be delivered on 14 February 2018.

Twenty mesh devices are included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods under eight entries, as at 28 November 2017. On 28 November, I understand the TGA took regulatory action to cancel some entries and to apply conditions of inclusion on other entries. This will be effective, I'm instructed, on 4 January 2018. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Hinch, do you have a final supplementary question?

Senator Hinch: Mr President. for reasons you're well aware of, I forfeit my second supplementary question.