Australia: Vaginal Mesh Class Action Won Against Johnson & Johnson

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More than 1,350 Australian women have been successful in their long-running class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in relation to the use of vaginal mesh implants.

Australia’s Federal Court deemed that J&J subsidiary Ethicon had not issued an adequate warning to patients and surgeons in relation to the “risks” posed by the products that were being implemented. The vaginal mesh implants were often used to mitigate against pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence that took place following childbirth.

A number of patients included in the legal action said they had experienced chronic pain, bleeding and significant discomfort during sexual intercourse after having the mesh surgically inserted.

Judge Anna Katzmann found that the majority of information the company made available on the products was “inaccurate” and at times made “false representations”. Damages will be set during 2020. Judge Katzmann said: “The risks were known, not insignificant and on Ethicon’s own admission, serious harm could ensue if they eventuated.”

Ethicon argued against this and is thinking about launching an appeal. A statement was released by the company which said: “Ethicon believes that the company acted ethically and responsibly in the research, development and supply of these products.”

Julie Davis, the original claimant 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 number of legal actions Johnson & Johnson faces over the products all over the world. Last October, the company agreed paying almost $117m (£90.5m) to settle compensation claims linked to pelvic mesh in 41 US states and the District of Columbia. There are also a number of legal actions in relation to the use of the product in Canada and Europe, including Ireland.