MELBOURNE, Australia — Global medical product giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) lost another court battle. This time the world-renown producer of pharmaceutical products lost a class action lawsuit to 1,350 Australian women who complained that the company misled doctors and patients about the dangers of pelvic mesh surgical implants according to a report authored by Reuters. The federal judge who heard the case has not assessed monetary damages against J&J subsidiary Ethicon, who was the distributor of pelvic mesh implants in Australia. The hearing on damages will take place in February of 2020.
The class-action lawsuit filed by the plaintiffs alleged that J&J and its subsidiary Ethicon failed to warn or concealed the dangers of pelvic mesh implants. In the end, the plaintiffs successfully argued that Ethicon hid from surgeons and patients that its pelvic mesh implants would migrate and lodge into surrounding organs, blood vessels, and musculature. Women who experienced pelvic mesh migration suffered a variety of very serious and painful ailments such as pain when urinating, chronic pain, bleeding, and discomfort during intercourse.
The jurist who heard and evaluated the evidence sided with the plaintiffs in a strongly-worded decision. The judge slammed Ethicon by ruling that the company knew what could happen to a pelvic mesh patient who experienced migration and did not do anything about it. Ethicon’s conduct, the judge ruled, measurably fell below how a reasonably prudent medical device manufacturer should conduct its operations by failing to evaluate the surgical mesh after patients received the implants. The judge also said that the information Ethicon provided about the pelvic mesh implants was, at times, both inaccurate and false.
For its part, Ethicon disclaimed any wrongdoing and said that the company conducted its operations ethically. The company is considering an appeal.
The initial plaintiff who brought the case that eventually became this class action suit was thrilled to learn of the judge’s ruling. She said that Ethicon treated a woman like “guinea pigs,” then failed to acknowledge wrongdoing or help correct the problem.
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