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Australian women win landmark vaginal mesh class action against Johnson & Johnson

Hundreds of women left in debilitating pain by faulty transvaginal mesh devices have won a landmark case against multinational giant Johnson & Johnson.

The Australian class action against companies owned by Johnson & Johnson was won on behalf of 1,350 women who had mesh and tape products implanted to treat pelvic prolapse or stress urinary incontinence, both common complications of childbirth.

The devices all but ruined the lives of many. Women have been left in severe, debilitating and chronic pain, and often unable to have intercourse. The vast majority also suffered a significant psychological toll. The mesh eroded internally in many cases, has caused infections, multiple complications, and is near impossible to completely remove, Australia’s federal court has heard.

The devices were not properly tested for safety before being allowed on to the Australian market, though Johnson & Johnson and the associated companies clearly knew the potential for serious complications. 

The companies were accused of launching a “tidal wave” of aggressive promotion at doctors, marketing the devices as cheap, simple to insert, and a relatively risk-free way to boost profits. All the while, their potential dangers were minimised, downplayed or ignored, both in communications to doctors and patients, the plaintiffs alleged. When patients complained of pain, they were frequently disbelieved.

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Source: The Guardian, 21 November 2019


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