FBI Investigates Cancer Spread with Power Morcellators and What their Largest Distributor Knew

On May 27, 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI was investigating power morcellators that were “found to spread cancer in women” and “what the largest manufacturer of [power morcellators], Johnson & Johnson, knew about [morcellation] hazards before pulling [its devices] off the market.”

According to the article, the FBI interviewed Robert Lamparter, a former pathologist at a small hospital in Pennsylvania. In 2006, Dr. Lamparter warned Ethicon – Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary responsible for manufacturing the power morcellators – of “the potential for an undetected cancer to be inadvertently spread by [these medical devices].” His concern was based on gynecologists at his hospital being “surprised by an unexpected [uterine] malignancy [rates of up to 1 in 150].” Matthew Johnson, a spokesman for Johnson and Johnson, acknowledged that Dr. Lamparter’s “concerns led the company to revise the instructions for use” of its power morcellators by adding a statement that they “may lead to dissemination of malignant tissue…”

The FBI also interviewed “Amy Reed, a 42-year old Pennsylvania anesthesiologist” whose cancer worsened after she had a hysterectomy with a power morcellator in 2013. The hospital at which the hysterectomy was performed “acknowledged it worsened Dr. Reed’s cancer and that the device had spread malignancy in another patient in 2012.”