This Week - Kentucky AG Files Deceptive Marketing Lawsuit Against Johnson & Johnson Over Surgical Mesh

Jane Akre
|
August 16, 2016
andy beshear 2

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, August 16, 2016 ~ Kentucky Joins Washington State and California in filing civil action against J&J for deceptively marketing its pelvic surgical mesh to consumers.

Seeks millions in restitution.

Kentucky is the latest state to file a civil lawsuit naming Johnson & Johnson and its medical device unit, Ethicon, for deceptively marketing surgical transvaginal mesh.

Disintegrating J&J mesh, Sling the Mesh campaign

Disintegrating J&J mesh, Sling the Mesh campaign, photo T Rogers

AG Andy Beshear’s office announced the lawsuit today. The state seeks millions of dollars in civil penalties from the healthcare giant.

The state alleges J&J violated Kentucky’s Consumer Protection Act that prohibits companies from introducing products into the marketplace using false, misleading deceptive or unfair acts.

“The way this company clearly chose profits over people is outrageous,” Beshear said. “My office has talked to victims whose lives have been devastated by this company’s deceitful practices. We may not be able to give them back the lives they once had, but my office will do everything we can to hold this company accountable.”

"I do not tolerate those who misrepresent their product by lying or lying by omission to Kentuckians."

It took a number of readers of Mesh News Desk to meet secretly with the AG’s office staff in Frankfurt to tell them their personal stories of life after a pelvic mesh product.

They are just six of the more than 15,000 women implanted with J&J mesh in Kentucky who say they had insufficient information about the known hazards so they could make true informed consent, according to the lawsuit. Many have done so even though they were threatened by their law firms not to go forward or they would be dropped as clients.

The company ignored J&J insiders who wanted to add more risks to the warnings, says the action.

“The way this company clearly chose profits over people is outrageous,” Beshear said. “My office has talked to victims whose lives have been devastated by this company’s deceitful practices. We may not be able to give them back the lives they once had, but my office will do everything we can to hold this company accountable.”

See the rest of AG Beshear's press conference here. See coverage on Stat here.

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Stat reports on the J&J response to the civil lawsuit. According to an Ethicon spokeswoman the lawsuit is, “unjustified, and the company plans to vigorously defend itself against the allegations. The evidence will show that Ethicon acted appropriately and responsibly in the marketing of our pelvic mesh products.

“The use of implantable mesh is often the preferred option to treat certain female pelvic conditions, including pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence, and is backed by years of clinical research … Ethicon is concerned that this lawsuit will keep women from obtaining treatment for the often debilitating symptoms of stress urinary incontinence.”

According to the AG's lawsuit, the company intentionally and purposely concealed and misrepresented to doctors many of the risks and adverse events of the permanent implants which include chronic pain, infection, urinary and defecatory dysfunction, pain with sexual intercourse or loss of sexual function. Ethicon also called its pelvic mesh implants FDA approved, then it was only FDA cleared.

Protesters at J&J shareholders meeting, April 2014

Protesters at J&J shareholders meeting, April 2014

The Attorneys General of both Washington State and California have also filed similar civil lawsuits alleging violations of their state's Consumer Protection Act.

Johnson & Johnson/Ethicon has the greatest number of product liability lawsuits filed in the U.S. with 35,000 filed on the consolidated proceedings in West Virginia, and another 15,000 or so filed in individual state court. Additionally, J&J is facing civil lawsuits in Australia, Israel, Canada, Scotland, among other countries.

Earlier this year, J&J lost two product liability lawsuits to plaintiffs in Philadelphia with a $12.5 million award to Patricia Hammons and $13.5 million jury verdict for Sharon Carlino. See MND stories here and here.

Women from Kentucky who are not represented in litigation but are asked to call the AG’s office at 502-696-5389.

The lawsuit was filed August 15, 2016 in Franklin Circuit Court, KY.

Here is the lawsuit:
http://ag.ky.gov/pdf_news/20160815_Complaint.pdf

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