Trials regarding Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) transvaginal mesh implant (TVM) products have been consolidated and taking place in West Virginia. On February 4, 2014, the federal magistrate judge found that J&J destroyed thousands of internal documents and computer files dating back to 2007 that are critical to the lawsuits of thousands of women
Injured plaintiffs and their lawyers are asking the Department of Justice to investigate their claims, and many nonprofit groups have written personally to Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting his department take a close look into the matter. They are claiming that J&J and its CEO intentionally obstructed justice by destroying its internal records regarding the TVM products.
TVM implants were commonly prescribed for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. The mesh products were very aggressively marketed to women with these chronic, and sometimes painful, conditions, even though prior studies showed the implants could cause even more devastation to a woman’s health.
Although J&J, as well as other manufacturers, knew the implants could cause serious, life-changing side effects, they chose not to inform physicians or patients about this possibility. As a result, hundreds of thousands of women were implanted with TVM devices and are now suffering widespread, permanent injuries, many of which have required additional surgeries
Some of the injuries plaintiffs suffered are
- Mesh erosion through the vaginal wall, requiring multiple surgeries
- Chronic, debilitating pain
- Serious infections and bleeding
- Bowel, bladder or blood vessel perforation
- Painful urination and painful sexual intercourse
In addition to J&J, there are six other TVM manufacturers including Gynecare and C.R. Bard, which makes the Avaulta and Prolift mesh implants, respectively. All six of the companies have set aside millions of dollars to settle TVM lawsuits, and J&J specifically allotted approximately $520 million to resolve more than 22,000 claims. Earlier this year, the Judge overseeing these cases against J&J, pharmaceutical giant, stated that, although there is proof the company destroyed thousands of documents related to its TVM implants, there is not proof that it was done maliciously or intentionally.
The destroyed documents included patient’s test reports, detailing all of the serious side effects and complications patients experienced after being implanted. It is difficult to believe that the documents were destroyed unintentionally after knowing this, particularly because we now know how egregious the injuries actually are.
As we have reported many times, and was again recently revealed in court, that documents have shown that J&J kept close ties with physicians and gave them cash incentives to prescribe their mesh implants. This would partially explain why such a poorly tested implant would be recommended for so many women, before even knowing its true safety and efficacy.
Women who have been injured by these devices have really horrific stories; some have even committed or attempted suicide due to the degree of pain they suffered.
The TVM cases have turned into the largest mass media medical injury case in the U.S., due to the severity of the injuries and how many mesh implants were actually implanted into patients.
We will continue to bring you updates on the events of the TVM cases. For more information, contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).