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First transvaginal mesh trial set to begin

Jan 8, 2013

Jurors were selected today in the first trial in which a company must explain the defects in its transvaginal mesh surgical devices.

According to a Bloomberg report, a South Dakota woman will be the first in the nation to have her case heard before a jury. She claims that a transvaginal mesh device manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and its Ethicon subsidiary is defective and caused her to suffer severe pain and serious and permanent injuries as a result. Thousands of women across the country are being represented by lawsuits against makers of transvaginal mesh devices which claim they knowingly hid defects with their products to get them approved for use worldwide.

In 2010, alone, more than 70,000 transvaginal mesh devices were implanted in women in the treatment of two conditions, stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Transvaginal mesh is essentially an adapted form of other surgical mesh products that have proven successful in the past but never for these delicate procedures. Erosion of the mesh through the vaginal wall and through other tissues and organs have caused permanent injuries and lifetime of pain for women who received these devices in surgery.

An attorney for the South Dakota woman represented in the first trial explained her ordeal caused by the defective transvaginal mesh device she received: "She can no longer sit comfortably for more than a few minutes without having to either stand up or lay down to try to reduce the level of pain. She requires various daily medications to treat her severe chronic pain."

She received the Gynecare Prolift device during a July 2006 surgery to shore up pelvic muscles that caused her to suffer pelvic organ prolapse, a condition common among aging women. In August of last year, Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson pulled that and three other transvaginal mesh devices it manufactures from the market amid growing complaints that it was one of the devices responsible for the most injuries in the class of devices.

In late 2011, the Food and Drug Administration ordered more than 30 makers of transvaginal mesh devices to conduct post-market safety studies to determine if their products held any clinical benefit to women that received them. Since that order, several companies have pulled their devices from the market but have maintained that they still believe them to be safe and effective.

The trial involving the South Dakota woman is expected to last a month with opening statements to be delivered on Thursday, Jan. 10.

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