Washington State AG Heading to Trial with Johnson & Johnson

Jane Akre
April 15, 2019

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, April 15, 2019 ~ Charging violations of its consumer protection laws, Washington State's trial is set to begin in one week. California's case will be heard in July.

The healthcare giant is on the hook for millions of dollars in consumer injuries.

A trial is set to commence next Monday as Washington State begins opening arguments against Ethicon, the medical device division of Johnson & Johnson.

Image: From Ethicon website

In 2016, the state’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued the healthcare giant to recoup the costs the state advanced to care for women injured by Ethicon’s pelvic mesh.

See: State of Washington v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., case number 16-2-12186-1 SEA in King County Superior Court.


Disintegrating J&J mesh

This will be the first trial brought by a state attorney general against Johnson & Johnson over its allegedly defective pelvic meshes, implanted in women to reinforce pelvic organs. Complications filed by thousands of women include chronic pain and infection, mesh erosion and shrinkage, nerve damage and loss of sexual function.

Kentucky, California and Mississippi have also filed similar suits but this is the first AG action to go to trial. Former California AG Kamala Harris filed the California case which is set to go to trial in July in San Diego.

Washington State AG Bob Ferguson

Mesh News Desk has been granted access to the proceedings by Courtroom View Network. The trial could take up to five weeks.

Unlike a jury trial, this civil action will be heard by one judge, King County Superior court Judge Suzanne R. Parisien.

The lawsuit says that J&J engaged in unfair and deceptive marketing of mesh products, a violation of the states’ consumer protections.

Specifically, the AG complaint says the healthcare giant did knowingly omit serious, life-altering complications from the instructions that came with every device sold from 1999 to 2015. The state is seeking the maximum penalty of $2,000 per violation along with costs, fees, restitution and other relief which could amount to $24 million.

J&J updated its instructions for use in late 2015.

Still for Sale

Prolift, MedTech Marketing

It’s estimated J&J sold more than 12,000 of its polypropylene mesh devices in Washington State between 2002 and 2015.

They include Gynemesh PS, Prolift, TVT-Exact, Prolift +M, TVT-Secur, TVT-Abbrevo, Prosima, Artisyn, and TVT.

The AG’s office says the company never told consumers its permanently implanted polypropylene meshes can cause chronic inflammation, chronic foreign body reaction, harbors infection, can protrude into an organ, cause permanent loss of sexual function among other complications.

The Motion outlines how J&J’s adverse reaction warnings changed over the years.

Many of the J&J/ Ethicon meshes have been found defective in a court of law.

The healthcare giant quietly and voluntarily removed four meshes from the market in mid-2012, allegedly for business reasons including – Prolift, Prolift +M, TVT-Secur and Prosima.

J&J continues to sell four devices nationwide - TVT (tension-free vaginal tape), TVT-O (obturator), TVT-Abbrevo, TVT-Exact, as well as its Gynecare pelvic mesh.

It’s estimated J&J sold more than 12,000 such polypropylene devices in Washington State between 2002 and 2015.

Among those who have joined in this lawsuit include one Washington State woman who is home-bound because she must use a catheter to empty her bladder. She suffers from chronic urinary tract infection and pain down her legs after her mesh was implanted eight years ago.

Another mesh implant woman has endured three separate surgeries to partially remove the mesh. She still suffers from incontinence and pain.

California and Washington State were among 46 states that investigated Johnson & Johnson's practices in advertising and marketing pelvic mesh.

In its lawsuit, AG Harris noted J&J sold about 790,000 mesh devices nationwide between 2008 and 2014 and 42,000 mesh implant in the state between 2008 and 2014. ###


Washington State Complaint, May 24, 2016 here

Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, October 26, 2018 here

MND, Kentucky AG Files Deceptive Marketing Lawsuit Against Johnson & Johnson Over Surgical Mesh, August 16, 2016, here

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