Attorneys general for Washington state and California have filed lawsuits against health care and products giant Johnson & Johnson over allegations the company for years misrepresented the risk of its pelvic mesh devices.
According to a new report from CBS News, the attorneys general alleged the company, based in New Jersey, intentionally concealed critical information from patients, doctors and the public about how dangerous pelvic mesh implants could be. The complications are not only severe, but often irreversible.
Many patients who have received pelvic mesh implants report:
- Urinary dysfunction
- Loss of sexual function/ extremely painful intercourse
- Severe constipation
- Serious and chronic pain
As Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson stated, many of these victims have lost not only their health, but they have been “robbed” of the quality of life they once enjoyed. Because Johnson & Johnson lied, Ferguson said, these women’s lives are forever changed. They can no longer sit, stand walk or lie down without suffering intense pain.
Patients had filed tens of thousands of lawsuits against manufacturers of vaginal mesh products. Some 35,000 cases were filed against J&J and another 20,000 were pending against Endo International. Two years ago, Endo agreed to an $830 million settlement. J&J, which sold approximately 800,000 of these devices, is still facing down scores of litigation.
The problem stems from a small piece of plastic mesh that was introduced as an effective treatment for a condition known as pelvic organ prolapse. It’s suffered by women, and it usually affects the uterus, bowel and bladder, mostly after childbirth, but also after menopause or hysterectomy. It sounded like a huge relief for the millions who suffer this condition.
But the problem, say the patients and now two attorneys general, is that these companies did not warn of known risks. Specifically, the companies didn’t tell the public that:
- The mesh was known to be rejected by the body, resulting in chronic inflammation;
- The mesh has the potential to harbor serious infections, which can be extremely difficult to treat because of the way the mesh is woven into the bodily tissue;
- The mesh is known to protrude into an organ or through the vaginal wall, which is known as erosion.
Ferguson pointed to an email sent by a physician in 2009, just prior to operating on one of his patients who suffered severe complications from the mesh. The email said the woman’s vagina was “permanently destroyed.” The mesh so badly damaged her that it was only 3cm in length and mesh was poking out “literally everywhere.”
Patients like this woman say no one told them this kind of serious personal injury was even a remote possibility.
And yet, Ethicon Inc., the J&J subsidiary that sold this product, stood by its practices, insisting that vaginal mesh is the “preferred option” for treatment, and that the product was backed by years of scientific treatment.
As it now stands, some 46 states plus the District of Columbia have launched investigations into the company’s actions. Washington and California are the first to file lawsuits. The California lawsuit specifically alleges false advertising and deceptive marketing. The Washington lawsuit alleges violation of state consumer protection laws. Both states are asking for multi-million-dollar penalties.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
States file lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson over pelvic mesh implants, May 25, 2016, Associated Press
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