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Johnson & Johnson Hit With $12.5 Million Judgment in Mesh Case

Engineer says company never considered how to remove the mesh if it failed.

Published: December 23, 2015

MESH LAWSUIT Johnson & Johnson pulled its Prolift pelvic organ prolapse repair kit from the market in 2012.

An Indiana woman who sued Johnson & Johnson, claiming that a vaginal mesh implant made by the company caused extreme pain during sex and required numerous corrective surgeries, has been awarded $12.5 million.

A jury in Philadelphia ordered the company to pay Patricia Hammons, 65, $5.5 million in compensatory damages for ongoing health problems and inability to have sex, and tacked on an additional $7 million in punitive damages. A spokesperson says Johnson & Johnson will appeal.

The trial was one of what could end up being thousands aimed at manufacturers of pelvic mesh implants. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, there had previously been 16 verdicts against pelvic mesh manufacturers, including J&J, totaling $247 million.

J&J began marketing its "Prolift" product in 2005, and pulled it in 2012. The company's defense may have been weakened by revelations that it knew in 2005 that pelvic mesh had been linked to dyspareunia (pain during sex), but did not include a warning on its product label.

Additionally, during Ms. Hammons's trial, a product engineer for Ethicon, the J&J subsidiary that made the mesh, said the company had never given any thought to how the mesh would be removed if it failed. The engineer said such procedures would be extremely difficult, calling the situation a surgical "train wreck."

"We believe the evidence showed Ethicon's Prolift pelvic organ prolapse repair kit was properly designed," says Matthew Johnson, director of communications for Ethicon. "Ethicon acted appropriately and responsibly in the research, development and marketing of the product, and Prolift was not the cause of the plaintiff's continuing medical problems. Studies demonstrated that Prolift was efficacious and had a low rate of post-operative complications when used with appropriate patient selection and proper surgical technique."

Jim Burger

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