The year is off to a costly start for Johnson & Johnson as the company made its first major settlement for women injured as a result of their faulty vaginal mesh inserts. The $120 million verdict is in response to approximately 3,000 active cases, and while it’s a lofty sum out of the gate, the company still remains to address 42,000 additional cases that are still open.
This verdict is a critical milestone for women who suffered from J&J’s vaginal mesh inserts, and a big blow to the medical-device manufacturer. While J&J is exposed to the most mesh injury claims, it is estimated that the total number of claims could exceed more than 100,000 lawsuits against more than six major mesh device manufacturers. And despite the FDA labeling vaginal mesh inserts as “high risk,” the device has not been withdrawn globally and continues to be used by many gynecologists to treat vaginal uterine prolapse and urinary incontinence.
Despite the avalanche of lawsuits that are still in queue, the question remains how the vaginal mesh inserts and slings can remain available on the market today. How can patients or physicians consent to their use? Device manufacturers, like J&J as well as Boston Scientific, are hurting after these recent verdicts and their profit margins stand to be negatively impacted by the numerous active cases that await resolution. Device manufacturers have to work together and convene with plaintiffs’ lawyers in an effort to halt this sprawling litigation and pull the devices from the market permanently.