The Ethicon doctor, who was in charge when the company’s Gynecare Prolift transvaginal mesh implant was first put on the market, testified during a trial in New Jersey that she had warned the company stating her concerns about the mesh’s capacity for erosion and retraction. According to news reports, the witness, Dr. Charlotte Owens told jurors that she knew about the injuries mesh erosion and retraction could cause among patients including nerve injuries and inability to have sexual relations. Owens was testifying in a lawsuit filed by 47-year-old Linda Gross who suffered extremely severe side effects from receiving the Gynecare Prolift vaginal mesh implant, which is usually used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.
Company Knew Mesh Could Fail
This is the first of 1,800 vaginal mesh lawsuits filed against Ethicon in New Jersey Superior Court. Another witness, Scott Ciarrocca, a project leader for developing the device for J & J, testified during the trial that the company already knew that the devices had a 27 percent chance of failing within a year. According to a Bloomberg news report, Ciarrocca told jurors that French researchers had reviewed 87 women who received the type of implant that Ethicon developed into its Gynecare Prolift.
Gross’s transvaginal mesh lawsuit alleges that J & J sold a defective vaginal mesh implant after testing it inadequately and failing to warn consumers about all the risks. Gross also claimed that she had to undergo 18 surgeries to repair damage caused by the Gynecare Prolift implanted in her on July 13, 2006. Gross During the trial, J & J lawyers told jurors that a 2005 study of the Gynecare Gynemesh, a predecessor to the Prolift, showed an 84 percent success rate. However, in August, J & J stopped selling four mesh devices in the United States including the Prolift based on “the products’ commercial viability, not their safety and effectiveness.”
Justice for Victims
The testimony that has come out of this trial so far is shocking. Employees who have worked for J & J and spent numerous hours developing the product, have said under oath that they knew that this was a defective product that was going to fail. The doctor testified she knew there was a good chance patients will suffer excruciating pain and nerve injuries as a result of the mesh erosion. She testified that she expressed her concerns on those matters to Ethicon. However, it appears to me, that the company did nothing about it because they had a product in their hands that was going to sell and rake in significant profits.
This appears to have been a case where Ethicon and J & J may have put profits over the safety of consumers. It is unacceptable for a corporation to put consumers in harm’s way knowing that it is selling a dangerous product. I hope the facts about transvaginal mesh products come out in this case and many others that are pending before the courts and I hope victims get the justice and compensation they rightfully deserve.