Word of a $16M Coloplast vaginal-mesh settlement spurs global resolution talk

Danish medical device maker Coloplast is said to have paid $16 million to settle lawsuits claiming it injured women with vaginal-mesh inserts. With settlement talk swirling around at least 5 more makers of the plagued devices, that has some watchers saying the time may be ripe for a global settlement.

Bloomberg writer Jef Feeley cited three people familiar with the reported Coloplast deal, who said executives at the company negotiated the settlement in January. Coloplast declined to comment.

The company has been mentioned frequently alongside Boston Scientific ($BSX), Cook Medical, C.R. Bard ($BCR), Endo Health Solutions ($ENDP) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) on the list of med tech companies trying to untangle a raft of legal claims related to vaginal-mesh inserts.

The inserts are designed to support internal organs and treat urinary incontinence. Numerous lawsuits allege they've failed, causing injury and, in some cases, death. In 2012, the FDA ordered 33 manufacturers, including J&J and Bard, to study rates of organ damage, infection and painful sex connected to the implants.

"It appears that momentum is building for some type of global resolution as more of these vaginal-mesh cases settle," Carl Tobias, a product liability law instructor at the University of Richmond in Virginia, told Bloomberg in an email.

Coloplast, known for its ostomy and continence-care devices, raised sales guidance in January after reporting double-digit growth across all business units in its first quarter, according to Bloomberg.

Some of the vaginal-mesh cases have been consolidated in Charleston, WV, before U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Goodwin. Last month, Goodwin handed J&J's Ethicon unit a victory, ruling after one week of testimony that the company's TVT Retropubic device did not cause injury.

J&J has maintained that the devices work as intended and patients were warned about risks--but the company nonetheless took four of its vaginal-mesh products off the market in 2012 as lawsuits piled up.

Meanwhile, Endo reports it is setting aside more than half a billion dollars to deal with civil claims against its vaginal-mesh products.

Officials at Bard, Boston Scientific, Coloplast and Endo either declined comment or didn't return calls, according to Bloomberg.

- read Bloomberg's report