In an effort to prove that the complications associated with the Prolift vaginal mesh device are common in all vaginal mesh devices, Ethicon has stated that it was already developing a newer device (UltraPro) that is superior to the one included in the Prolift kit. The Johnson & Johnson unit also claims that this does not prove that the kit included in the Prolift device is defective.
This statement by Ethicon was made in its closing arguments in the New Jersey trial filed against the company by Linda Gross, who claimed that she suffered from complications after having the Prolift vaginal mesh device implanted. During that closing argument, Ethicon’s lawyer compared the development of the UltraPro mesh to Apple Inc.’s development of newer versions of the iPhone. The lawyer stated that consumers buy an iPhone 3 despite knowing that a newer version (the iPhone 4) will be available in a few months. This statement was made in response to the plaintiff’s lawyers claim that the company should have waited for the safer mesh before putting the Prolift kit on the market if they already knew that a potentially safer alternative would be available.
During the closing argument, Ethicon’s lawyer said that “the fact is that it took five years to develop Ultrapro [the mesh that Ethicon put on the market right after Gynemesh]. Ethicon had to wait for the animal and clinical data. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say, ‘you’ve got to study the safety of your medical devices before you put them on the market, but put a new one out there before you study.’ There was no significant difference [between Gynemesh and UltraPro] anyway. There was no evidence that — if UltraPro had been implanted into the plaintiff [instead of Gynemesh] — there would have been a different result.”
Complications of the Prolift vaginal mesh device that are common with various vaginal mesh devices include erosion, vaginal scarring, painful intercourse and infections. This lawsuit is the first of 1,800 claims that are currently underway in New Jersey Superior Court against Ethicon.