Bard's fate hangs with jury in latest vaginal mesh lawsuit

C.R. Bard's ($BCR) fate is in the hands of yet another jury that will decide whether it knowingly sold defective vaginal mesh implants. Expect the outcome to help frame strategies for the thousands of pending lawsuits against Bard and its rivals in related cases now working their way through the court system.

As Bloomberg reports, closing arguments on both sides wrapped up in a Charleston, WV, court on Aug. 13. Plaintiff Donna Cisson alleges that the company's Avaulta Plus vaginal mesh implant caused her bladder spasms, bleeding, and pelvic and rectal pain, and had to be removed through several surgeries as a result. Her attorney asserted that the company knew its implants relied on plastic that is unsafe for permanent use inside humans. But the company claimed otherwise, arguing that Avaulta was both properly designed and made, and isn't connected to the injuries Cisson faced.

Even so, as Bloomberg notes, Bard no longer markets Avaulta, having pulled the product after the FDA demanded safety data from 31 vaginal mesh implant manufacturers, including Bard, Boston Scientific ($BSX), Endo Health Solutions ($ENDP), and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ). 

Cisson's attorney argued that Bard chose to overlook research that showed the plastic used in the vaginal mesh led to a risk of both erosion and infection. He also claimed that the company ignored a warning that the plastic wasn't safe for human use and tried to conceal from Chevron Phillips Chemical--the maker of the plastic--its decision to use the product in people. But attorneys representing Bard noted that the plastic used for Avaulta had already been a safe ingredient in medical devices for 50 years, and that the company had been lauded for its vaginal mesh design.

Bard first lost a vaginal mesh case in 2012 and had to fork over $3.6 million following the jury's decision. Cisson's initial trial end in a mistrial in July, when a witness violated a judge's ruling by mentioning that Bard had pulled Avaulta products from the market.

To date, about 5,000 vaginal mesh claims have built up against Bard, the story notes. And they're becoming quite costly. Bard took a $275.1 million litigation charge in the 2013 second quarter, and that ended up pushing Bard's net income into the red.

- read the full Bloomberg story