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Vaginal Mesh Implant Causes Serious Injuries

In what will likely be the first of many settlements to come, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to resolve claims from four Missouri women that its Ethicon Prolift vaginal mesh implant caused serious injuries.

The settlements came almost literally at the courthouse door, as jury selection was scheduled to begin in late January 2015. Since the controversy over these devices began in 2012, J&J consistently denied that these devices are dangerous. Nevertheless, it currently faces about 23,000 liability lawsuits. One observer noted that “it's only four cases, but it's a start. There's still a long way to go to get the whole thing resolved.” A J&J spokesperson emphasized that the company did not admit or deny liability as part of the settlement terms and that “the company may consider whether settlement is appropriate” in individual cases.

Johnson and Johnson voluntarily recalled the Ethicon Prolift in June 2012, along with three other vaginal mesh implants. Other manufacturers include Boston Scientific, American Medical Systems and Coloplast.

Vaginal Mesh Implants

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first vaginal mesh implant in 1996. At the time, Boston Scientific claimed that the device was an effective treatment for Stress Urinary Incontinence. Later that decade, the FDA approved similar implants for patients with Pelvic Organ Prolapse, which is a loosening of the vaginal wall.

But problems appeared almost immediately. The FDA issued a partial recall of some vaginal mesh implants in 1999. By the mid-2000s, there were widespread concerns about the safety of these devices. Nevertheless, since sales remained strong and the implants remained legal, device manufacturers continued to market them aggressively.

In many of the thousands of vaginal mesh cases, women report some of the same side effects and symptoms, including:

  • Erosion: Over time, the polypropylene implant deteriorates and wears through the soft tissue in the vagina area. The immediate results are typically a severe, burning pain that makes sexual intercourse nearly impossible. Ultimately, if the implant breaks into pieces, doctors must perform multiple surgeries to remove the fragments.
  • Perforation: As the pieces migrate, they can puncture the bladder, bowel, rectum, and other surrounding internal organs. As a result, waste can enter the bloodstream and cause septic shock, a normally fatal condition.

If you or a loved one begin experiencing any of these symptoms, contact an experienced Arlington Heights defective medical device attorney.

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