A jury has awarded $80 million to a couple, Patricia and George Mesigian, in a lawsuit against Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, over its Prolift pelvic mesh product. The verdict included $50 million in punitive damages and $30 million in compensatory damages.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April ordered surgical mesh manufacturers to stop selling their products, as there was no “reasonable assurance” that they were safe. Ethicon is facing more than 20,000 lawsuits over its pelvic mesh product.
Patricia Mesigian had her original surgery in 2008, and continues to suffer serious side effects. She began bleeding vaginally shortly after the first procedure. Corrective surgery was performed, which revealed that a portion of the mesh had migrated into her vagina.
Four years later, Patricia began bleeding again and sex became painful. She underwent a third surgery to remove more of the mesh. She would have three more operations between 2013 and 2017 as well as several other treatments to remove scar tissue. She now suffers from chronic pain, and her family relationships have suffered.
Many women report painful complications after having pelvic mesh implanted. According to the FDA, the most serious complications include urinary problems, pain, infection, recurring prolapse, vaginal scarring and incontinence.
Because transvaginal mesh is considered a permanent implant, surgery to remove the device can be difficult and increases the risk of additional symptoms or complications. Tissue begins to grow around the mesh, so removal is challenging or impossible without damaging surrounding organs. It is not always possible to remove the mesh completely. Patients often experience painful and recurring infections as a result.
Lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon claim that the company either knew or had reason to know that the mesh was defective, and that they deliberately or negligently failed to present the evidence to patients and doctors.