Big Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson has won its first vaginal mesh implant case, prevailing over a plaintiff who alleged the device was defective. The court found for the defendant in Charleston, West Virginia, where the plaintiff claimed that a TVT Retropubic sling used to treat incontinence was improperly designed.
This case is the beginning of over 12,000 federal court claims against TVT Retropublic slings involving allegations that the sling and their other vaginal mesh inserts disintegrated over time, resulting in severe injuries and unrelenting pain. More than 1 million women have had these slings inserted since the device met with FDA approval in 1998. The West Virginia judge found the plaintiff’s lawyer failed to present enough evidence that there was a defect in the device that caused her injuries.
In 2013, the FDA ordered vaginal sling/mesh makers to study the rate of organ damage and any complications that may be related to those implants. In 2010, more than 70,000 of these devices were inserted into women’s vaginas to provide support for sagging pelvic organs. Thousands of women insist they sustained irreparable harm as a result of receiving these devices.
Given the nature of the evidence so far, it is hard to imagine that each case will end with a victory for Big Pharma. That is not a likely scenario for the thousands of other women waiting in the wings to get justice, despite what the FDA says is safe. In practical applications, the vaginal mesh kits may have damaged many women’s health, and they may never be the same again.