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Shareholders, CEO Meet With Those Injured by J&J Mesh

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Robert Fish, Estelle Tasz, Terri Rogers, Hope Pagano, A. Melman

It was not an easy trip for this mesh-injured group to make to New Brunswick, New Jersey, home of healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

As editor of Mesh News Desk, I had gathered five mesh-injured to fly into town but we were warned that while access to the annual J&J shareholders meeting April 24 was unlikely, our group could hold a news conference on the public sidewalk where shareholders, arriving by the busload, would pass by. Even with PR professionals alerting the media, there were no guarantees any media would show up.

So with those less-than-solid assurances, four women and one man, who all had authorization from their law firms to talk, flew from their homes to the gathering.

Linda Wilcox and Estelle Tasz were awaiting mesh explant surgery. Teresa Sawyer has had surgeries but has ongoing issues.  Even those with their mesh removed felt violated and not whole.

The one man who traveled with me from Florida, Robert Fish, had watched the painful demise of his mother who ended her life when she could not get relief from the unrelenting pain of two pelvic mesh implants.alex and signs

The meeting would follow a campaign launched by Corporate Action Network (CAN) which had just released its JohnsonandJohnsonHurtsWomen.org website here.

All of the participants had had their lives touched by Johnson & Johnson, one of six major mesh manufacturers.   The week before, CAN had sent out a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the company for the destruction of documents that were on a litigation hold in pelvic mesh cases. Next came a letter to Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina to encourage her Subcommittee on Children and Families to initiate a U.S. Senate investigation into actions by J&J and its top executives for a pattern of reckless conduct that had seriously injured women across the U.S.

And J&J remains the defendants with the largest number of product liability lawsuits – at least 30,000 lawsuits in the U.S.

Most of us arrived Tuesday, April 22nd and gathered at the Hyatt, the hotel practically on the J&J World Headquarters campus.

akreThe media blitz had worked with a live interview segment with Huffington Post and a phone interview with four mesh survivors talking to national media. See 10 minutes in here.

 

 

Illumination30k lawsuits illuminated

Nearby in New York City a group of dedicated young people and their van arrived. They had contributed to citizen actions by illuminating messages on the sides of buildings.

The Illuminator had been involved with citizen protests such as spying by the NSA and environmental issues such as species protection and fracking.

The Illuminator came to New Brunswick Wednesday night, April 23. It was extremely cold with temperatures in the 40s and blustery but the Illuminator shone its light from a public street on the side of the J&J headquarters “J&J Hurts Women lit up 8th, 9th and tenth floors. On the lawn of the Hyatt the message was “30,000 LAWSUITS AGAINST MESH – TIP OF THE ICEBERG.” On the awning of the Hyatt it said “J&J Hurts Women. Org” just as shareholders got comfy in their beds for the next day’s annual shareholder meeting.

jnj hurts wed niteMeanwhile a group of participants held up signs from The Light Brigade, essentially Christmas lights that spelled out “Johnson & Johnson Hurts Women,” both in front of headquarters and later on the public sidewalk facing the Hyatt. Folks driving by in New Brunswick honked their horns while shareholders and hotel guests leaving nearby restaurants after fine dining stopped on the sidewalk to take it all in.

The Getty picture service had signed a contract with the CAN public relations group to shoot and upload the event but, according to the media coordinator, the group broke the contract at the last minute. The reason given – ongoing litigation.

Shareholders Arrive4 shot with signs

Thursday morning shareholders began arriving by the busload. As the large and loud Greyhounds approached the covered walkway outside of the Hyatt we held our news conference.

Mesh survivors, Hope Pagano and her husband Steven drove to the event as did Terri Rogers who lived nearby. Both felt they wanted to show support though they were not authorized by their law firms to speak.

Reporters from the Star Ledger and Associated Press arrived as did a photographer from Reuters. The most poignant shot came when Estelle began telling her story to those present.

“I want accountability” from Johnson & Johnson, said Tasz.

“I’m not the person I was, the mom I was, and obviously not the wife I was,” she said. “I want answers and I want my life back.”

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Terri Rogers, Hope Pagano, Estelle Tasz, Steven Pagano

Tasz broke down in front of the cameras.  She later apologized. I said her words were powerful.

Robert spoke with great emotion about his mother with the very similar words he had used the day before during a conference call interview with various media outlets.

After the news conference the handmade signs made the night before went up for all arriving by bus to see.

Robert had stayed up to make the poster with his mother’s picture. He stood silently, passively as those unloading from the bus invariably had to pass him.  About two dozen shareholders saw the sign and told Robert they were sorry. They were mostly older women, he said. One woman, a nurse, rolled her eyes in what he interpreted in solidarity and said “I know about that, I’m a nurse.”woman expresses condolances to robert fish

One woman in her 70s asked Robert what it was about. He said the mesh made by J&J to correct pelvic problems destroys women’s health. She seemed interested, he said.

The younger, well-dressed corporate types who were walking very fast from J&J corporate headquarters across the street for the most part hurried past and did not make eye contact.

Hello Mr. Gorsky

Meanwhile inside the shareholders meeting that began at 9:30 a.m. Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky told the crowd of about 1,650 that the corporation was healthy and its three business segments were all doing well. Shareholders gave Gorsky high marks for his two-year tenure that’s seen stock prices soaring.

Alex Gorsky MBA Veterans Conference, Nov. 2011

Alex Gorsky MBA Veterans Conference, Nov. 2011

A shareholder meeting is not the time to talk about recalled consumer products such as Motrin, Benadryl and Tylenol or the contaminated plants the Food and Drug Administration took over in recent years.  Many of those recalled products will not return to store shelves for another year.

Sitting near the front was CAN’s Mark Fleischman who introduced a resolution for a friend. The shareholder proposal required executives of J&J to retain their J&J stock compensation until they retire. Shareholders voted down that proposal but Fleischman was front and center and not about to give up the microphone.

He introduced author, Gay Courter who began by commending the company for 100 years of products that stand for purity, health and safety.

Gay Courter- Spoke to Mr. Gorsky

Gay Courter- Spoke to Mr. Gorsky

But today I am here as a woman injured by transvaginal mesh representing tens of thousands like me and several other women in this room, including Linda Wilcox and Teresa Sawyer.

“Today I call on this board and officers to conduct an investigation on whether it is worth keeping any mesh in your product line.  There is no reason any woman should ever have to suffer lifelong debilitating pain or have disfiguring surgeries to remove this product.  It is ironic to call a division Ethicon when it acts unethically and continues to injure so many women including your mothers, your wives, your sisters, your daughters, some of your employees, possibly yourself–not to mention myself.  Please protect your brand and also protect women.”

A smattering of applause was heard from the audience of shareholders of J&J. Neither Gorsky nor his crew stopped the testimony.

teresa sawuyer”Mr. Gorsky, you hurt me,” said Teresa Sawyer said at the microphone next referring to her TVT (transvaginal tape) implanted in 2011. Sawyer, who prayed before testifying, said she felt strangely elated addressing Gorsky and the crowd.

Linda Wilcox, 67, commended the company for all the good it does but asked if J&J was planning to stand up and be responsible for what they’ve done to her and all the other women.

After the meeting CEO Gorsky said to the women he was sorry about their problems but the company puts patients and their safety first. His personnel took the names of the three women.

I appreciated his few minutes to greet the three of us ladies. At first I felt like I touched the hand of the devil, but realized he is a man and that if we keep pressing him we can change his position on the mesh products and stop hurting women,” said Sawyer.

Afterward she was personally addressed by a half dozen stockholders and some patted her on the back to show sympathy. One woman was near tears apologizing to Teresa for her injuries. Teresa and her husband David have turned their tragedy into action by starting the nonprofit TVT-NO! to try and support women financially and with information to make an informed decision.

Most notable was a shareholder who gave Teresa her card and asked for help. The female shareholder is now having problems with her own pelvic mesh implant.

Learn More:

JohnsonandJohnsonhurtswomen.org here

Associated Press with video Story here

Fitzgibbon Media Video of April 23, 2014 here

David Hall Photographer-Davideo Multimedia, LLC here

Huffington Post- 10 min in starting here

WTAE story- Pittsburgh here

Gorsky- 60 Percent Video here

15 Comments

  1. Richard M Howden(AMU) says:

    I hope that this protest did some good. I am sure that it just felt good being able to ‘vent’ at J&J execs, etc.. Maybe Hernia Mesh victims can be remembered and represented, too? Or are we now just to be left behind as the wave of TVT mesh products are brought to light. I would hope that soon it will be the material that all mesh is made of that will be the center of attention and not just the brand or device design and use. All Mesh Victim’s need to be recognized and represented as a group whether male, female, young, old, hernia or gynecological mesh. We have all lost what we had and what we were, never to be the same healthy, happy person again. We all have been lied to by Doctor’s and in absentia by the manufacturers who advertise a product as ‘benign’ and ‘safe’ for use in mass and is implanted in the most sensitive and private of areas of the body. We are the guinea pigs of the largest medical fraud in history and we receive the bread crumbs off the manufacturers table as “settlements”.

    I have little to no faith in the Justice Dept. to do anything to change the Status Quo but one can only hope. Because that is about all you have left after a mesh implant.

    Another great article in meshmedicaldevicenewsdesk.com !

    • Jane Akre says:

      Richard you are right.. at the end of the day it appears that PP (polypropylene) may be the culprit. We need to advance science and quickly to see who it’s incompatible in some? most? The important questions are not even being asked yet, much less answered. I understand your frustration….

  2. peg says:

    True richard, so true , all not just those hand picked, I can only speak for those women but men also have been damaged, THE DEEPER YOU GET INTO TRUTH OF ALL INVOLVED , THAT DID NOTHING IN STATES AND WASHINGTON D.C. EXPOSES THOSE OF DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS BOTH THAT GOT MONEY IN CAMPAIGNS AND OR SUPPORTED THESE CHEMICAL COMPANIES AND INVESTED MONEY INTO THEM, OR GOT MONEY, ESPECIALLY THOSE IN THE LAST CAMPAIGNS, REASON WHY NEWS MEDIA DID NOT SEND OUT BLASTS OF MESH, IMPLANTS , WOMEN HAVING TO TURN TO WEB SITES AS THIS ONE AND MORE TO EVEN GET HOME REMEDIES AND MORE SINCE DOCTORS AND NURSES LIED TO US. do you think obama after getting money from these companies is going to warm americans, what about mitt romney? remember he was shown on boat , getting money, when asked by news reporter who the people were that attended his promotion for money, he laughed and said he would not tell who these people were, chemical companies and those lobbist that held secret votes at 3:00 in the morning, it gets deeper in all involved , now we know why doctors lied and nurses, that covered for medical research using people as guinea pigs. as we will be used for the rest of our life , and suffer because some crooked judge alos appointed in states and federal also has interest. all women , men should be allowed to speak and tell the truth in and out of courts not for courts to gag people so the whole truth will not be heard. crimes of those traitors of america.

  3. jade says:

    Bloomberg reports since March, the numbers of injured filing lawsuits has grown 6,500 – leaving us a current total as of “April 15, 2014 there are 49,525”. http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1876426

    Some, no doubt, attributed to the outcome of the Linda Batiste case, but also many to the fact that these mesh manufacturers are still marketing these horrific mesh products. And, most disturbing that the doctors on their payroll are either brain dead to what’s happening or refuse to believe it! In actuality, the Devil cannot perform his task without his Minions! These surgeons are just as culpable as the manufacturers of criminal action and immoral behavior. They will be ultimately judged and sentenced in another dimension for their deeds, Alex Gordsky included, for his unfeeling statement regarding J&J’s statement as to patient satety. Again, Jane, as your video trailer stated…”They should all burn in Hell.”

    • Jane Akre says:

      Bloomberg needs to read the So District of WV. There are 56,156 as of April 14th. Ethicon (J&J) is facing another 5,000 in state court in NJ and who knows how many against other manufacturers in other states. Easily 70,0000 lawsuits filed and that is JUST IN THIS COUNTRY. Elsewhere around the world litigation is ongoing and growing!

      • jade says:

        Interesting. Maybe they are just knowingly UNDER reporting??? I’d like to submit a PDF or jpeg here, but this venue is not allowing me to attach. Thanks.

  4. Hope Pagano says:

    Everyone did a great job. It was not easy for anyone to be there but I am sure it made an impact. Unfortunately we need to keep pushing and keep researching as out of sight out of mind.

    To me mesh is mesh. It is all potentially toxic and it hurts women, men and anything else that is alive that it is implanted in.

    The product is defective, toxic and dangerous and needs to come off the market instead of being developed for other areas of medicine.

    This stuff kills people as well as the animals it was tested on.

    • Richard M Howden(AMU) says:

      Ah heck Hope! I am sure that if they did try PP mesh out on animals it didn’t last long. PETA or some animal rights group would have stopped them. I mean really, Hope! How cruel it would be to put PP mesh in animals and expect them to exist! So, we will skip the animals and go straight to the human’s! Yeah! (applause, confetti, etc, etc) and the Money rolled in……………

  5. jade says:

    Agreed, Richard. When I read the deposition of Dr. Ross from C.R. Bard – his unfeeling attitude towards these innocent animals was just evil in itself. I believe (and, I paraphrase) – “….those sheep are expensive…” This was his comment after he was questioned as to “why” they did not experiment further on the sheep before rushing to implant women. UNbelievable – those poor animals were sacraficed on behalf of getting the mesh to market BEFORE Bard’s competitors – they only left the implanted mesh in the sheep for a “shortened” period of 45 days, AND, they knew the sheep had no chance of life without pain PRIOR to implantation. The “experiment” was cut short as NOT to lose valuable marketing time to get their kits to market! WHY didn’t they offer that option to women – you’ll ONLY suffer 45 days and then we’ll put you out of your misery??? How many of us would have taken that option IF we had known the unrelenting pain that would follow us forever? And, these perpetrators (Minions) call themselves “doctors”?

    • Jane Akre says:

      Jade- where is that deposition… its horrible.. which case? Sounds like a good read for all. Thank you!! (sorry I get snowed in with the massive amount of information…)

      • jade says:

        meshmedicaldevicenewsdesk.com/…/Bard-Exhibit-200-61-Jim-Ross- deposition-20113073761.pdf

        Jane – you made this available. Here it is. Look at pages 52-54. This guy Ross is pretty much of a egotistical

        person. If you read the dep completely – you will not his total disregard for anyone who challenges him. He even declares at one point “I’m a bastard.” And, I sense a strong negative attitude towards women and their value as “equal” to men. Again, how do I attach a PDF here or a video? Hope all is well. Good job on all.

        BTW: Do you have any specific info on NJ doctors who were big components of TVM?

  6. Karin says:

    Reading this article brings tears to my eyes. Tears of sadness for the many many women who like myself have suffered so so much. Tears of gratitude to these brave souls who spoke out. I know some of them and know how painful just the travel was, the standing, not to mention the emotions they had to bring to the surface as they spoke out about their mesh. And tears of joy that through our supporters we have a chance to have a VOICE about what has been done to us and then so cruelly shoved under the carpet. Thank you all. So much

  7. Barbara Dykes says:

    Karin….great observations. Being a HUGE advocate for animals in general I shed some tears for those Sheep. I know many will think this is “silly” and maybe they would be right. But, Since I was a little girl, I have loved animals. And I would do anything to stop using them for research! As sure as there is a God in heaven, people will pay for inhumane acts against humans and animals. Animals are more loving and trusting than most humans, sad to say.(present company excluded 🙂

  8. Kitty says:

    WENT TO regulations.gov COULD NOT FIND THE SITE FOR TRANSVAGINAL MESH TO HIGH RISK WHAT IS GOING ON !! PLEASE ADVISE THIS IS VERY WEIRD BECAUSE IT USUALLY COMES UP READILY

    very scarey

  9. Johne443 says:

    Thanksamundo for the post.Really thank you! Awesome. gbdckgkgbeea

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