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Transvaginal mesh lawsuit highlights dangers of medical devices

By Jessica Surber, attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

medic-hospital-laboratory-medical-40559Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear announced today that he is suing Johnson & Johnson for false marketing of transvaginal mesh, a medical product that the company sold to doctors and surgeons. The mesh is an implant used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and relieve stress urinary incontinence.

Beshear said in a press conference that the mesh has been implanted in 15,000 Kentucky women without Johnson & Johnson or Ethicon, the medical device subsidiary, providing proper information to women about the product.

The lawsuit doesn’t seek compensation for women harmed by the transvaginal mesh. Instead, it seeks civil penalties against Johnson and Johnson.

This type of lawsuit by an attorney general is unusual, and while it seeks to punish the manufacturer of transvaginal mesh, it doesn’t help women who are suffering because of this product. Anyone who has been injured is strongly urged to seek help from a qualified attorney, who can help them advocate for their rights.

Many consumers expect the government to protect them from such products – but our work in this field indicates that oversight is lacking. In many cases, medical devices haven’t been subjected to rigorous review that you’d expect the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to undertake before medical devices can be used on patients. Transvaginal mesh is one such product.

Other products that have caused patients problems include DePuy Pinnacle ASR Hip Implant, a metal-on-metal hip implant. Implants made by Stryker, Biomet and Zimmer have also caused problems – all relating to a flawed design of two metal pieces rubbing against each other, eventually flaking off pieces of metal into the bloodstream and causing metallosis. The hip implants can also break down and dislocate over time, causing some patients to need painful and costly revision surgeries.

The hip implants have largely been recalled, and are no longer on the market, but evidence indicates that the companies that make the hip implants knew there were problems as far back as 2001 but did nothing, allowing more patients to suffer.

Lawsuits are also ongoing against the manufacturers of the birth control device known as Essure that has caused abdominal pain and other severe reactions in women. A Congressman from Arizona even tried to get the birth control banned in the U.S. due to problems with it. The FDA has received thousands of complaints about the product – yet it remains on the market.

IVC filters – tiny, retrievable filters installed in arteries to keep blood clots from traveling to the lungs – can break, change positions, puncture veins and cause other problems. But the filters are still available and widely used, despite these problems.

Anyone who has experienced problems with medical devices is encouraged to contact our firm, English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, at (270) 781-6500 to discuss their case. You may also use our contact form, which you can find here. We offer a free initial case review.

Whatever you do, don’t let a lingering problem with a medical device persist. Seek medical help if you believe a medical device is harming you.