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More J&J Woes: Ethicon Must Pay $3.35 Million in Initial Vaginal Mesh Case

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Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)’s subsidiary, Ethicon, has been ordered by the Superior Court of Atlantic County (Atlantic City), New Jersey, to pay $3.35 million in the first lawsuit focused on its vaginal mesh implant, Prolift. The outcome of the trial found that Ethicon failed to tell the truth about the “catastrophic” risks of vaginal mesh to a South Dakota patient’s surgeon. Ultimately, the patient suffered constant pain and had to have many operations to correct damage caused by the implant.

More than 2,000 lawsuits over the vaginal mesh implants have yet to be tried. A recent article in Bloomberg News indicated that “punitive damages… may total as much as $16.75 million.” (Bloomberg News, 2/26/13)

According to the article, Linda Gross was awarded $1.1 million for pain and suffering, $180,000 in lost wages, $500,000 for future wages lost, $385,000 for past medical treatment, $1 million for future medical treatment, and $180,000 for her husband’s loss of companionship and conjugal affections. (Bloomberg News, 2/26/13)

In 2010, physicians had implanted more than 70,000 vaginal mesh devices in women throughout the United States. In January 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had instructed Johnson & Johnson and other vaginal mesh implant manufacturers to “study rates of organ damage and complications linked to vaginal mesh implants.” (Bloomberg News, 2/26/13)

Johnson & Johnson continued to claim throughout the trial that its Ethicon product, Prolift, was “safe and effective” and that the company had adequately warned of the inherent risks. J&J’s stock value dipped a total of $0.68, to $75.57/share. (Bloomberg News, 2/26/13)

Johnson & Johnson is also embroiled in massive litigation involving its DePuy division's ASR hip implants which were recalled in August 2010. The first trial involving the ASR hips is winding down in California at this time. Approximately 93,000 of the ASR hips were installed world-wide.