Dr. Miles Murphy, Ethicon’s urogynecology expert from Allentown, Pa., tried to do damage control when he testified on Ethicon’s behalf in the vaginal mesh lawsuit that is currently underway in New Jersey.
Murphy testified on three major points of Ethicon’s defense of the safety of the company’s Gynecare Prolift Transvaginal mesh device kit. One of the defense’s major points is based on studies that claim that the Prolift device kit is safe. The second point in the defense’s claim is that doctor errors and not the device kit are responsible for patient injuries. The last point of the defense is that their own expert believes that Prolift’s usage instructions provide proper warnings about the device’s risks for use when read by a properly-trained doctor. These three facts were the ones that Murphy testified to.
This vaginal mesh lawsuit was filed by Linda Gross, and is significant because it is the first of 1,800 Prolift vaginal mesh claims in New Jersey Superior Court against Ethicon to go to trial. Murphy also testified that until this trial, he has never heard of the “roping effect” that some doctors have stated occurred when they pulled the Prolift’s mesh through the tubes they used to put the device into patients. In fact, Murphy demonstrated the device procedure while still on the stand. When he did so, the mesh roped just as was previously described, which made the demonstration work more to the benefit of the plaintiff than the defense.
Ever since the vaginal mesh devices have hit the market, patients have been complaining of complications that often require the devices to be surgically removed. Complications of the various vaginal mesh devices include erosion, vaginal scarring, painful intercourse and infections. This trial is believed to be a precedent-setting case that may help define the future of future cases. If Murphy’s testimony was an effort at damage control after plaintiff expert testimony, Ethicon is in for a huge struggle. Previous testimony by experts for the plaintiff have shown that Ethicon ignored warnings about the potential dangers of the device. In addition, witnesses have charged that the Prolift device was never subject to clinical trials, and that Ethicon doctors hid the dangers linked to the device. With Murphy’s demonstration of the Prolift device on the stand, it appears as if Ethicon’s defense strategy — that doctor error is causing all of the complications — has flown out the window.