California Sues Johnson & Johnson for Failure to Warn About Dangers Associated With Surgical Mesh

Last month, California sued Johnson & Johnson for failing to warn patients and doctors regarding the risks and likelihood of complications resulting from the company’s pelvic mesh devices. The suit also alleges false advertising and knowingly concealing the risks linked to the devices. Specifically, the suit claims that Johnson & Johnson incorrectly marketed the devices as a safe alternative to non-mesh treatments for pelvic floor disorders, while knowing their use could potentially result in a number of side effects, including bleeding and losing sexual function.

The company “put millions of women at risk of severe health problems,” stated the California Attorney General, “by failing to provide critical information [regarding] its surgical mesh products.” His office spearheaded a 46-state investigation into the company’s mesh devices. The suit asks for money damages and injunctive relief (specifically, an order stopping any misleading advertising for the products).

According to the Attorney General, Johnson & Johnson sold roughly 800,000 pelvic mesh devices in the United States in the six years prior to 2015. The company sold 42,000 devices in California during this time.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said the lawsuit was unjustified and might discourage women from getting treatment. Its spokeswoman indicated that the evidence will show that the company behaved appropriately in marketing the products at issue. She continued that surgical mesh is often the preferred option to treat conditions like POP and SUI, and it is supported by extensive clinical research.

The Attorney General alleged to the contrary that the company’s deceit refused women the ability to make important and informed decisions about their health. “My office will continue,” the attorney general concluded, “to hold companies accountable for misleading consumers and patients for financial gain.”

Also last month, Washington state’s Attorney General filed a similar complaint against Johnson & Johnson regarding the marketing of pelvic mesh devices.

Johnson & Johnson is one of a number of manufacturers that sell similar devices. These products are meant to treat conditions like pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). All companies that manufacture such devices are defending lawsuits from plaintiffs claiming they were injured by the products’ inadequate design and materials, allegedly causing serious complications and requiring surgery.

These devices have been increasingly scrutinized by regulators over the past several years. There have also been a number of private lawsuits. The FDA indicates that it has received several thousand reports regarding complications related to the mesh used to treat pelvic organ prolapse. And earlier this year, the agency indicated that it was planning to reclassify these mesh devices from class II (moderate risk) to class III (high risk). This change will mandate manufacturers to submit comprehensive data to prove the safety of the devices.

The product liability lawyers at the Neumann Law Group represent victims of accidents throughout the Los Angeles area. Call us at (213) 227-0001 for a free consultation.

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