J&J ordered to fork over $3M in vaginal mesh case

Ethicon's Gynecare TVT Obturator device--Courtesy of Ethicon

Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Ethicon unit lost a battle in its ongoing vaginal mesh litigation as a federal jury in West Virginia ordered the company to pay $3.27 million to a woman who claimed the device caused undue pain and serious side effects.

After a two-week trial, jurors on Friday found Ethicon liable for selling faulty Gynecare TVT Obturator, or TVT-O, transvaginal mesh devices and for failing to warn patients and doctors of risks including pain, bleeding and infection, Reuters reports. Plaintiff Jo Huskey and her husband sued J&J in 2012, claiming that problems with the TVT-O implant caused pelvic pain and injury. None too pleased with the recent verdict, Ethicon plans to appeal and maintains that it "acted appropriately and responsibly in the research, development and marketing of the product," spokesman Matthew Johnson said in a statement (as quoted by Reuters).

The case is the second to go to trial among thousands that have been consolidated in West Virginia before a federal district judge. In February, J&J scored an early victory when U.S. Federal Judge Joseph Goodwin ended a jury trial and ruled that the company's TVT Retropubic device did not cause injury. The ruling marked a bright point for Ethicon, as earlier that month a U.S. magistrate judge in Charleston determined that the company negligently mishandled files and documents related to its Gynecare Prolift and TVT Retropubic mesh devices.

This is not the first time J&J has been ordered to pay vaginal mesh-related claims. Last year, a New Jersey state jury slapped the company with an $11 million verdict, concluding that J&J did not adequately warn patients of the device's risks. In April, a Texas state court awarded a plaintiff $1.2 million after a jury found that the company's TVT-O pelvic mesh product was defectively designed.

But J&J is not alone in its struggle, as companies such as C.R. Bard ($BCR), Boston Scientific ($BSX), Endo Health Solutions ($ENDP) and Coloplast face legal battles over related products. In July, Boston Scientific won its first case to go to trial in Massachusetts state court but still faces more than 20,000 lawsuits related to its vaginal mesh devices.

Eager to lay claims to rest, Endo Health Solution and Coloplast have taken a different route and opted to pay to settle mesh-related suits. In March, Danish devicemaker Coloplast ponied up $16 million to settle lawsuits over its vaginal mesh implants, sparking talk of global resolution. In May, Endo shelled out $830 million to resolve 20,000 lawsuits, a "substantial majority" of its vaginal mesh claims, the company said in an earlier statement.

- read the Reuters story

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