Tens of thousands of women have sued Johnson & Johnson over injuries from transvaginal pelvic mesh implants. The implants were sold as a treatment for prolapsed organs, but there were widespread complications such as pain, infection and bleeding. The mesh could also shift from its surgically implanted location and puncture the abdominal wall or nearby organs, and this could require revision surgery.
In April 2019, the FDA suspended sales of synthetic transvaginal mesh implants. Numerous states filed lawsuits claiming that J&J made false safety claims and deceptively marketed the implants.
The state of West Virginia did not join a class action but instead took the case to court on its own. It accused J&J and two subsidiaries of “misrepresenting the effectiveness, properties, risks and safety history” of the implants.
In a separate but parallel case, West Virginia sued J&J and its subsidiary Ethicon for “deceptively and unlawfully” marketing, promoting and selling several types of hip replacement systems that allegedly turned out to be unreasonably dangerous.
These hip implants were made with a metal ball and a metal socket. Unfortunately, when the ball and socket rubbed against each other it could cause tiny bits of metal to flake off and enter the body. This could cause pain and injury to the patient and could require revision surgery.
Other states, too, filed deceptive marketing claims against J&J regarding its metal-on-metal hip implants.
J&J and its subsidiaries continue to deny any wrongdoing in these cases. But they have agreed to settle with the state of West Virginia for $3.9 million in the pelvic mesh case, and this will also apply to defective hip implants that could have been the subject of similar litigation. The state’s attorney general says West Virginia agreed to the settlement to avoid the expense, inconvenience and delay of litigation.
In October, J&J settled a deceptive marketing practices case with the state of New York for $117 million. In January, a California judge ordered the company to pay almost $344 million in penalties for deceptive marketing.
Just because a medical product is FDA approved does not necessarily mean it is safe. Often, patients can bring product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers and anyone involved in deceptive marketing of such products.