Aug. 18, 2016 – San Diego, CA Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear announced Tuesday, Aug. 16 he had filed suit against Johnson & Johnson and its medical device unit Ethicon, alleging the companies engaged in deceptive marketing campaigns regarding their transvaginal mesh implants.
As reported by Fox News, the attorney general reportedly accused the companies of concealing and misrepresenting to doctors and patients the implants’ associated risks, and is seeking thousands of dollars in damages for each plaintiff in Kentucky who had a transvaginal mesh made by J&J implanted.
The lawsuit seeks civil penalties of $2,000 per violation of the state’s deceptive practices law, and $10,000 when targeted at women over age 60, Fox News reported.
More than 15,000 women in Kentucky have had J&J’s transvaginal mesh implanted, Beshear said in a statement. The implants are used to treat pelvic organ prolapse, a relatively common condition that can manifest years after childbirth or a hysterectomy. About 200,000 surgeries are conducted each year to correct pelvic organ prolapse, which occurs when pelvic muscles weaken and allow nearby organs, such as the uterus and bladder, to slip out of place.
Martin Hood, lead attorney at Hood National Law Group, applauded the Kentucky Attorney General’s decision.
“I think it was the right decision. The state of Kentucky has expended a lot of its limited healthcare funds caring for women who were implanted with this defective product,” Hood said Thursday.
Kentucky’s Beshear joins two other attorneys general who filed lawsuits against J&J over alleged deceptive marketing practices regarding its transvaginal mesh implants. California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed lawsuits against the conglomerate in their respective states back in May.
State attorneys general serve as chief legal advisor to their state’s government, and some serve as the head of their state’s department of justice. In those cases, Hood said they could work to protect the rights of their citizens in even more cases.
“If they’re going to protect their citizens, they should be more assertive in protecting their citizen’s rights in regard to toxic waste, harmful drugs and medical devices — or any other area where the state’s resources are used to fix the harms caused on their citizens,” said Hood.
J&J Faced With Mounting Lawsuits
Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Ethicon have faced a barrage of lawsuits on account of their transvaginal mesh implants. Tens of thousands of lawsuits have been filed across the country by women who experienced serious and life-threatening complications from the device, including protrusion, infection, painful intercourse, urinary problems, bleeding and organ perforation.
Transvaginal mesh lawsuits have been moving steadily through the court system for several years and involve tens of thousands of women. Multi-million-dollar verdicts have been handed down in favor of plaintiffs, including $12.5 million awarded to a woman in a Philadelphia courtroom in January 2016.
The same month a Philadelphia jury handed down the $12.5 million verdict, the Food and Drug Administration reclassified transvaginal mesh implants from moderate-risk devices to high-risk devices.
In an emailed response, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon told Fox News the lawsuits were “unjustified.”
“The evidence will show that Ethicon acted appropriately and responsibly in the marketing of our pelvic mesh products,” the company told Fox News. “The use of implantable mesh is often the preferred option to treat certain female pelvic conditions, including pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence, and is backed by years of clinical research.”