On January 14, 2013, the first of more than 1,800 vaginal mesh lawsuits that were filed in New Jersey against Johnson & Johnson’s division Ethicon began opening statements. The plaintiff in this case is claiming that she suffered from serious complications that were caused by her Gynacare Prolift vaginal mesh device implant, which was used to treat her pelvic organ prolapse. So far, this trial is expected to last for a month.
The vaginal mesh device is used to help treat patients who are suffering from stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. These conditions often are caused by childbirth and menopause. For this lawsuit, the plaintiff says that she was first treated with the vaginal mesh device in 2006, and almost immediately began experiencing urinary complications, constant pain and swelling; ultimately, her body rejected the implant. She claims it took twelve surgeries in an effort to remove the vaginal mesh device, but that it still causes her pain. She states that she has had 18 surgeries in total.
Ethicon removed the Gynacare vaginal mesh devices from the market in June 2012, calling the effort a decision to “stop commercialization” of the product, but so far, the mesh device hasn’t been recalled. The decision was made in response to all of the complaints and lawsuits directed at Gynacare. So far, the company has not, however, offered to reimburse patients or even admitted to any defects. It just stopped making the mesh devices and figured that that would be enough.
Other companies are also in hot water over their own versions of the vaginal mesh devices, including C.R. Bard, Coloplast, Boston Scientific, American Medical Systems and others. Each company has created vaginal mesh devices that are similar to Ethicon’s, and all of them cause the same serious side effects. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed all over the country and have been consolidated into various MDLs because of the side effects, but so far, this case is one of the first to reach a court room.