Film Review: THE BLEEDING EDGE (USA 2018) ****

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The Bleeding Edge Poster

A look at the unforeseen consequences of advanced technological devices used in the medical field.


Kirby Dick


THE BLEEDING EDGE is a Netflix original documentary that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and will launch globally on Netflix this week. Co-written and directed by Kirby Dick, this is another of the docs that he specializes in – the expose doc.  In THE INVISIBLE WAR and THE HUNTING GROUND, he exposed the military and university campuses for female abuse.  His target this time around is the medical industry – narrowed down to medical devices.

The film begins with praises in the technological health care system.  From ultrasound before birth, to health testing of delivered babies to adults, devices have aided human beings in their health monitoring.  A talking head Jeanne Lenzer with the title on the screen ‘The danger Within Us’ adds her praise.  Those familiar with director Dick’s films, know that he is priming the audience to take the bait.  America has the most technologically advanced health care system in the world.  Dick bang-on reveals that medical interventions have become the third leading cause of death, and the overwhelming majority of high-risk implanted devices never require a single clinical trial.  With his producer/writer film partner Amy Ziering, they turn their sights on the $400 billion medical device industry, examining lax regulations, corporate cover-ups, and profit driven incentives that put patients at risk daily.  Weaving emotionally powerful stories of people whose lives have been irrevocably harmed, the film asks: what life-saving technologies may actually be killing us?  Dick covers the FDA, the government agency that approves medical devices and exposes the defect in the system.

Dick finally narrows down his film, systematically to a few targets – hip replacement devices and hence, the hip replacement companies; the metal tube inserted into the women by  the company ESSURE to prevent pregnancies.  His whistle blower is Dr. Stephen Towers who not only has a medical practice but a hip replacement.  After trashing his hotel room one day, a result of chrome poisoning (the metal was discovered in his blood after blood tests) from his medical devices in his hip poising his body including the brain, he gets the device removed only to miraculously discover all his previous pain and ailments disappeared.  The two main organizations targeted are Johnson and Johnson and the agency, the FDA.  

Essure is indicated for women who desire permanent birth control (female sterilization) by bilateral occlusion of the fallopian tubes.  Essure is currently no longer available in Canada.  It is still available in the United States.

The ultimate question asked is whether the risk of medical devices is worth the benefits reaped from them.  Dick’s answer is a clear no but leaves the audiences to make an educational decision given the relevant facts.

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering have given audiences another disturbing but entertaining and cautionary winner.  The film ends with guidelines to follow for anyone considering medical implants.



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