TWO American states have filed lawsuits against leading pelvic mesh device manufacturer Johnson & Johnson in a case that Australian mesh victims hope will increase pressure for a Senate inquiry on mesh devices in this country.
In statements of claim filed this week California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the company misrepresented the risks of vaginal mesh devices it sold to repair pelvic complications in women after pregnancy and childbirth.
The states accuse the company of neglecting to tell patients and doctors about the risks of mesh devices and and the sometimes catastrophic consequences.
California and Washington led a group of 46 states investigating the company. In a statement of claim the state of California alleges the company engaged in false advertising and deceptive marketing.
Johnson & Johnson sold nearly 790,000 vaginal mesh devices in the United States between 2008 and 2014. The state of Washington has alleged the company violated the state’s consumer protection laws thousands of times. Penalties could reach millions of dollars.
Mr Ferguson said 12,000 mesh devices were sold in Washington state but patients were not told the mesh can cause chronic inflammation as the body rejects the foreign material; that mesh can protrude into organs, the vagina and rectum, or that mesh can harbour infection, leading to women needing constant antibiotics.
On Wednesday four members of the Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group met with Australia’s peak health regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, on behalf of hundreds of women who suffered permanent complications because of mesh device implants.
Group founder Caz Chisholm said the American action was significant. She forwarded film of Mr Ferguson’s 30-minute media conference to the TGA and urged action.
“This mesh is affecting Australian women and destroying their lives,” Ms Chisholm said.
During the media conference Mr Ferguson said many women were unable to have mesh removed because of the growth of tissue through and around it.
Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon, which marketed the mesh, said the lawsuits were unjustified and “the evidence will show Ethicon acted appropriately and responsibly”.