Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson and two affiliated companies have been ordered by an Australian court to pay $2.6 million in damages to three women for misleading them about the risks of pelvic mesh implants. The court has also ordered the company to pay for the legal costs borne by the three applicants.
Johnson & Johnson has been entangled in a number of issues for the past few years. Patients in the lawsuit had complained of a wide range of problems arising owing to the faulty implants of pelvic mesh, which includes chronic pain and several other discomforts. Johnson & Johnson had faced similar lawsuits in other countries and has paid damages earlier too.
Yet another blow for Johnson & Johnson
The Federal Court of Australia in the class action lawsuit ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay A$2.6 million. The three lead applicants in the class action lawsuit will be paid between A$555,555 and A$1.28 million, said Johnson & Johnson. The court found Johnson & Johnson being "negligent" as it was driven by commercial interests and failed to provide timely and sufficient remedial action after it came to know of problems with the implants.
Similar issues to the group in the class action number to more than 1,350 women, who have complained of excruciating pain and other discomforts owing to the faulty surgical implants of pelvic meshes. These women will be determined over time so that they could also be paid damages. Patients in Australia, like in many other countries, complained of chronic pain, bleeding and acute discomfort while having sexual intercourse.
Not a new problem with Johnson & Johnson
Earlier in November, the Australia's Federal Court found Johnson & Johnson and related companies in Switzerland and America, Ethicon Sarl and Ethicon Inc, respectively, of being negligent and "misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive a not insignificant number" of patients and doctors about the risks of implanting the pelvic meshes. Ethicon is a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary.
Katzmann in her judgement said: "At all relevant times all the Ethicon devices had a defect .... [and] at all such times all the Ethicon devices were also unfit for the purpose for which they were acquired."Johnson & Johnson had faced similar lawsuits in United States, Canada and Europe. Much like in Australia, the company in October last year, agreed to pay around $17 million to settle similar claims by patients in 41 states in the United States.
Following the compensation judgement, Johnson & Johnson in a statement said, "Ethicon emphasizes with those women who have experienced complications following pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence surgical procedures." However, once the judges announces the issues that will be used to determine the women who will be eligible for compensation, Johnson & Johnson, will get 28 days to take a decision if it intends to appeal the verdict pronounced in November.