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Johnson & Johnson loses Australian class action over pelvic mesh

For decades, one way doctors have treated organ prolapse is by surgically installing mesh implants into the pelvis to keep the prolapsing organ in the position where it is naturally supposed to be. Unfortunately, many women who have had pelvic mesh implants have experienced bleeding, chronic pain and severe pain during intercourse, and many have claimed that they were never told of the risks.

Johnson & Johnson sold pelvic mesh implants through its subsidiary Ethicon, and the companies have been sued in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia. Last month, J&J agreed to pay almost $117 million to settle claims from 41 states and Washington, D.C.

Now, Australia's Federal Court has ruled against Ethicon in a major class action brought by over 1,350 women who claimed the company misled doctors and patients about the risks of these implants. The Court ruled that Ethicon sold the implants with no warning of the "gravity of the risks" and also that it was negligent in selling the implants before they were completely tested.

Specifically, the judge found the information provided by Ethicon about the implants was sometimes inaccurate and sometimes included "false representations." She found the materials to be misleading when considered as a whole.

The judge called the post-market evaluation of the devices "deficient" and "well below the level of care required of a reasonably prudent manufacturer." According to the judge, Ethicon knew the risks and knew they could be serious, but it failed to act.

In a statement, Ethicon said it believes it acted responsibly in the research, development and supply of the implants. It is considering its options for appeal.

The lead plaintiff was "incredibly pleased" by the ruling, which comes after seven years of litigation. "They have treated women essentially like guinea pigs, lied about it and done nothing to help," she told reporters.

The judge did not award any amount of damages yet to the plaintiffs. Those damages will be determined at a later date.

Have you been injured by a pelvic mesh implant?

If you received a pelvic mesh implant that caused bleeding, pain or painful intercourse, there may be a legal remedy available to you under the law of product liability. Discuss your situation with an experienced attorney to understand your legal options.

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