A long-running class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) over vaginal mesh implants has been won by more than 1,350 Australian women.
It was ruled in Australia’s Federal Court J&J subsidiary Ethicon had not issued a sufficient warning to patients and surgeons in relation to the “risks” posed by the products they were using. The vaginal mesh implants were often put in place to address pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence that occurred in the aftermath of childbirth.
Some patients in the legal action said they had suffered chronic pain, bleeding and severe discomfort during sexual intercourse after having the mesh surgically implanted.
Judge Anna Katzmann ruled that much of the information the company provided about the products was “inaccurate” and at times made “false representations”. Damages will be set next year. During he ruling she said: “The risks were known, not insignificant and on Ethicon’s own admission, serious harm could ensue if they eventuated.”
Ethicon defended its record and said it would consider an appeal and released a statement which said: “Ethicon believes that the company acted ethically and responsibly in the research, development and supply of these products.”
The original claimant in the case Julie Davis said: “They have treated women essentially like guinea pigs, lied about it and done nothing to help”. This ruling comes after the Australian government last year issuing a national apology to women affected by vaginal mesh, acknowledging decades of “agony and pain”.
The case is one of a series of lawsuits J&J faces over the products around the world. Last October, the company committed to paying almost $117m (£90.5m) to settle claims in relation to pelvic mesh in 41 US states and the District of Columbia. There are also a number of lawsuits over the product in Canada and Europe, including Ireland.