Mesh Medical Device News Desk, July 15, 2019 ~ This is the second of four State Attorneys General suing Johnson & Johnson (J&J) over its pelvic mesh devices and the cost to the state.
The first trial by Washington State ended just before trial with a J&J settlement last April.
Opening arguments got underway this morning in the first transvaginal mesh trial of a state attorney general.
In this case, California AG Xavier Becerra is suing Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon division alleging that the healthcare giant misrepresented the safety of its mesh to both doctors and patients, a violation of California’s unfair competition and false advertising laws.
In doing so, the company took away a woman’s ability to make an informed choice about whether to have a permanent mesh implant put in her body.
“J&J deceptively marketed its surgical mesh devices as safe with minimal risk when in fact these devices exposed women to a host of dangerous complications,” wrote California Deputy Attorney General Jinsook Ohta, in the complaint. “J&J did this despite being urged by its own medical advisers and employees to warn doctors and patients of pain with intercourse, sexual dysfunction, and impact on quality of life.”
The trial is being held in San Diego County Superior Court before Judge Eddie Sturgeon, without a jury.
Mesh News Desk is monitoring the proceedings via Courtroom View Network.
Just how much the team is seeking is unspecified, but according to the complaint, filed by then AG Kamala Harris in 2016 (here), J&J sold 787,232 pelvic mesh medical devices from 2008 to 2014. That includes more than 42,000 in California.
J&J defends its record.
“The attorney general’s position is at odds with the views of leading doctors and medical groups both in California and around the world, as well as the FDA,” wrote Ethicon spokeswoman Mindy Tinsley. “The evidence presented will show that Ethicon acted appropriately and responsibly in the research, development and marketing of its pelvic mesh products.”
J&J is using Butler Snow attorney William Gage to make its case, along with Carolyn Kubota with Covinton & Burling, and Steve Brody with O’Melveny & Myers.
A similar lawsuit brought by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson settled in April for $9.9 million on the first day of trial.
See: The People of the State of California v. Johnson & Johnson, case number 37-2016-00017229-CU-MC-CTL in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Diego.
Washington, California, Mississippi, and Kentucky have all sued Johnson & Johnson over its pelvic mesh sales and for violating the state consumer protection laws.
Nationwide, more than 107,000 pelvic mesh lawsuits were filed in one federal court in West Virginia and another 50,000 filed globally for injuries from mesh used for incontinence and pelvic floor prolapse.
Injuries include mesh erosion, infection, mesh shrinkage, chronic pain, autoimmune reactions, among other complications.
Mesh for pelvic organ prolapse has been taken off the market but incontinence mesh (SUI, stress urinary incontinence) also known as a “ribbon” or “hammock” remains on the market.
There are four major manufacturers of all pelvic mesh – Ethicon, Boston Scientific, American Medical Systems (Endo) and C.R. Bard. Johnson & Johnson (Ethicon) had the largest number of product liability lawsuits filed globally.
In January, AG Becerra announced at $120 million settlement with J&J over its DePuy metal-on-metal hip implant devices, alleging violations of the consumer protection laws in the state and for violating assurances about the safety of its hip implants. California will receive $8 million of that settlement.
MND, Washington State Heading to Trial with J&J, April 15, 2019