AG Shapiro Secures $116.9 Million Settlement with Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon, Inc. for Deceptive Marketing of Transvaginal Mesh Devices

October 17, 2019 | Topic: Consumers

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced a $116.9 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Ethicon, Inc. for their deceptive marketing of transvaginal surgical mesh devices. The settlement is the result of an investigation conducted by 41 states and the District of Columbia that found the companies violated state consumer protection laws by misrepresenting the safety and effectiveness of the devices and failing to sufficiently disclose risks associated with their use. Pennsylvania will receive $3,838,919.79 under the settlement. The companies will also be required to provide comprehensive information about the product’s risks going forward.

“Companies have a responsibility to fully disclose the risks associated with their products,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary were aware of possible serious medical complications associated with transvaginal surgical mesh, but they did not warn consumers. I’m proud to have worked with my colleague Attorneys General in negotiating a settlement that makes the companies pay for the harm they’ve caused to Pennsylvanians and requires significant corporate change to ensure that going forward, consumers receive accurate and comprehensive information.”

Transvaginal surgical mesh is a synthetic material that is surgically implanted through the vagina to support the pelvic organs of women who suffer from stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse. The multistate investigation found the companies misrepresented or failed to adequately disclose the products’ possible side effects, including the risk of chronic pain and inflammation, mesh erosion through the vagina, incontinence developing after surgery, painful sexual relations, and vaginal scarring. Evidence shows the companies were aware of the possibility for serious medical complications but did not provide sufficient warnings to consumers or surgeons who implanted the devices.

Under the settlement, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $116.86 million to the 41 participating states and District of Columbia. The settlement also provides injunctive relief, requiring full disclosure of the device’s risks and accurate information on promotional material, in addition to the product’s “information for use” package inserts.

Among the specific requirements, the companies must:

  • Refrain from referring to the mesh as “FDA approved” when that is not the case;
  • Refrain from representing in promotions that risks associated with mesh can be eliminated with surgical experience or technique alone;
  • Ensure that product training provided to medical professionals covers the risks associated with the mesh;
  • Omit claims that surgical mesh stretches after implantation, that it remains soft after implantation, that foreign body reactions are transient and that foreign body reactions “may” occur (when in fact they will occur);
  • Disclose that mesh risks include: fistula formation, inflammation, as well as mesh extrusion, exposure and erosion into the vagina and other organs;
  • Disclose risks of tissue contraction, pain with intercourse, loss of sexual function, urge incontinence, de novo incontinence, infection following transvaginal implantation and vaginal scarring;
  • Disclose that risks include that revision surgeries may be necessary to treat complications, that revision surgeries may not resolve complications and that revision surgeries are also associated with a risk of adverse reactions.

The settlement has been filed and requires court approval to become final. A copy of the filing can be read here.

In addition to Pennsylvania, the Attorneys General of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin also participated in the investigation and settlement negotiations.

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