Boston Scientific faces first two federal trials for transvaginal mesh devices

Boston Scientific ($BSX) is shoring up for the first federal trials over its transvaginal mesh devices, countering claims from women who say the products were faulty and caused them injury.

The Marlborough, MA-based company on Monday will face two trials for its transvaginal mesh products in two courts, one in Charleston, WV, which involves allegations from four women over the devicemaker's Obtryx product for stress urinary incontinence, and another in Miami that focuses on the company's Pinnacle device for pelvic organ prolapse, Reuters reports.

The consolidated cases in West Virginia are part of U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin's plans to speed up proceedings and prevent the cases from dragging on unnecessarily, according to the Reuters story. Goodwin originally scheduled test trials to hear cases from individual plaintiffs, but decided earlier this year to group claims from multiple women into a single trial, which "may facilitate settlement" and save the court time and resources, he told the news outlet.

"I think that Goodwin has been working hard to try to find an end game for this litigation," Fidelma Fitzpatrick, a Motley Rice attorney who represented plaintiffs in other vaginal mesh trials against Boston Scientific, told Reuters. "The reality is, one case at a time when you're trying four or five cases a year against a manufacturer isn't enough to truly put pressure on the defendants."

Meanwhile, Boston Scientific is still dealing with more than 23,000 claims in federal and state courts, including cases consolidated before U.S. District Judge Goodwin in West Virginia and 1,700 cases assigned to one judge in Massachusetts state court, the company said in an Aug. 6 regulatory filing. In July, the company scored a victory when it won the first case to go to trial in Massachusetts state court, but in August faced a setback when a judge rejected the company's request to remove four cases from its consolidated suit in the U.S. District Court for West Virginia.

Boston Scientific is not the only devicemaker facing allegations over faulty transvaginal mesh products, as big names like C.R. Bard ($BCR) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) are also embroiled in their own legal wars. In September, J&J's Ethicon unit lost a battle in its ongoing vaginal mesh litigation when a federal jury in West Virginia ordered the company to pay $3.27 million to a woman who claimed undue pain and serious side effects from the device.

Other companies are taking a different approach and choosing to lay claims to rest. In March, Danish devicemaker Coloplast forked over $16 million to settle lawsuits over its vaginal mesh implants. In May, Endo Health Solutions ($ENDP) followed suit and shelled out $830 million to resolve 20,000 claims, a "substantial majority" of its vaginal mesh cases, the company said in an earlier statement.

- read the Reuters story
- here's Boston Scientific's SEC filing

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