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States Start Suing Over Pelvic Mesh Implant Injuries

Dangerous pelvic mesh devices were marketed and sold to hundreds of thousands of women in recent years, even though they were inherently unsafe – and manufacturers knew it. woman

That’s the allegation lobbed by plaintiffs in tens of thousands of vaginal mesh lawsuits, and it’s now being echoed by attorneys general in California and Washington, both of whom recently filed lawsuits against one manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, and its subsidiary Ethicon, Inc.

“For many victims, their health and quality of life were forever changed as a result of this deception,” said Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Side effects of these mesh devices, used to treat pelvic prolapse and incontinence in women, include loss of sexual function, urinary dysfunction, severe pain and constipation. For some women, there is no position that is comfortable anymore. It’s not just the loss of intimacy with their partners, but being unable to sit upright, lie on their side or walk a few steps without incredible pain. 

Speaking at a press conference announcing the lawsuits, one woman from Seattle revealed that she had vaginal mesh surgically inserted at the same time as her hysterectomy, per her doctor’s recommendation, as a way to help deal with her ongoing issues with incontinence. But three years later, not only did her incontinence not get better, it got worse. Plus, she’s had to deal with severe pain, numerous urinary tract infections and constant, agitating itch. What was previously a minor incontinence issue is now so serious, she has to either leave work or keep several changes of clothes with her so that she can cope with the constant accidents that occur as a result of the damage done by the mesh.

She is one of tends of thousands of woman who have already filed personal injury lawsuits against manufacturers of these devices. Johnson & Johnson is a major player, as is Endo International, based in Ireland, and Boston Scientific in Massachusetts.

Two years ago, Endo settled 20,000 personal injury lawsuits with $830 million. Johnson & Johnson, however, still faces 35,000 lawsuits – and more by the day.

These allegations from state attorneys general allege Johnson & Johnson violated state consumer laws with false advertising, and deceptive marketing. In Washington state, where some 12,000 Johnson & Johnson meshes were implanted, the attorney general alleges the company never told patients they risked chronic inflammation, long-term risk of infections and erosion, a condition that occurs when mesh protrudes into an organ or through the vaginal wall. And again, the states allege, these were problems about which the company was well aware.

In one case from 2009, a physician sent the company an email just before he was to begin surgery on a mesh patient. He informed the company she was likely to lose all sexual function, as her vaginal length was just 3 cm. Plus, there was mesh “extruding literally everywhere.” As the doctor put it, the patient would suffer, “a permanently destroyed vagina.”

And yet, despite emails like this, the company continued selling these devices – up until 2014, when they finally pulled them from the market. Still, they have never conceded the products aren’t safe.

If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.

Additional Resources:

State files lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson over pelvic mesh implants, May 25, 2016, Associated Press

More Blog Entries:

Navo v. Bingham Memorial Hospital – Apparent Agency, May 7, 2016, Miami Pelvic Mesh Injury Lawyer Blog

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