Johnson & Johnson, one of the leading manufacturers of transvaginal mesh (TVM), reached a vaginal mesh lawsuit settlement for $5 million with plaintiff Pamela Wicker. Wicker claimed that J&J’s Ethicon Prolift mesh eroded inside of her, causing pain during intercourse and necessitating several surgeries to completely remove the mesh.
This claim is similar to hundreds of thousands of women who are currently filing lawsuits against device manufacturers. The claims assert that the drug giants (J&J included), did not properly warn the public or patients of possible side effects of failed TVM implant surgeries or test properly before releasing them to the public. This vaginal mesh lawsuit settlement is one of the first to be awarded, but many believe it is just the beginning for women whose suffering has escalated due to this faulty device.
What is J&J Vaginal Mesh?
Vaginal mesh (also called transvaginal mesh, or TVM) inserts are small, net-like implants typically made from a plastic material called polypropylene. Women suffering from pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) are the chief candidates for the surgery. The mesh is usually inserted through the vagina in an attempt to reinforce the weakened vaginal wall. Johnson & Johnson’s vaginal mesh product is known as the Ethicon Prolift. Ethicon is the subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, and Prolift is the product name.
Complications from TVM
Damaging side effects as a result of TVM implants are rampant. The FDA released a statement in 2011, asserting that side effects from the pelvic mesh are not rare. Complications range from mesh erosion through the vagina, pain, infection, pain during intercourse, organ perforation, bleeding, vaginal scarring/shrinkage, and emotional damages. Many of these complications have required hospitalization or further surgeries to repair the eroded mesh.
The FDA also states that the most common side effect is erosion of mesh through the vagina. This is also the most consistently reported side effect. Multiple surgeries may be necessary in some cases, and in some cases—even multiple surgeries cannot resolve the complication. Many women are facing debilitating side effects that may be permanent.
Manufacturers of TVM
The following are manufacturers of the faulty mesh:
- Boston Scientific
- American Medical Systems
- C.R. Bard
- Cook Medical
The recent vaginal mesh lawsuit settlement awarded to Wicker for $5 million was from Ethicon, a J&J company. The majority of TVM cases are against J&J. The company began pulling product lines off the market in 2012 after the FDA ordered them to study injury rates. Unfortunately, thousands of women had already been injured by the faulty mesh at this point.
J&J’s Ethicon is not the only manufacturer involved. Cases related to TVM inserts have increased since they first began in 2011. Currently, over 100,000 suits have been filed against the above-mentioned device manufacturers.
Boston Scientific and Bard have also settled cases, though they continue to fight claims and defend the product. Both companies have set aside more than $1 billion to settle claims.
What This Vaginal Mesh Lawsuit Settlement Means for Future Cases
Carl Tobias, who teaches product-liability law at the University of Richmond in Virginia states: “This settlement is a bad sign because it shows investors it’s going to cost a lot more to deal with this liability than people expected.”
Wicker’s enormous settlement amount is a good sign however, for other women who have been harmed by their TVM surgeries, proving that it is a viable case. However, J&J says that this specific case “presented unique circumstances” which they were unwilling to reveal, meaning that this high award could be an anomaly and not the norm. In January, for example, J&J agreed to pay $120 million to resolve 2,000-3,000 mesh-related suits.
Still, Wicker’s high settlement amount is promising for many women who have undergone painful surgeries and suffered debilitating side effects as a result of the failed mesh.
If you or a loved one have suffered from failed TVM surgery, you are not alone, and may be eligible for payment from the manufacturer. Get a free case evaluation and learn more about the transvaginal mesh lawsuit to see if you may qualify.