Johnson & Johnson, makers of a surgical mesh device designed to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence in women, has come under fire from California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. In a lawsuit filed on May 24, 2016, Attorney General Harris alleges false advertising and deceptive marketing practices on the part of Johnson & Johnson.
The complaint alleges that Johnson & Johnson did not properly inform patients and doctors of the possibility for severe complications that could result from the use of these products or disclose the frequency or severity of the risk factors involved.
The result of a multi-state investigation, led by the state of California and including 46 states and the District of Columbia, the states are now seeking injunctive relief and monetary penalties to ensure Johnson & Johnson ceases its deceptive practices surrounding surgical mesh devices.
Some of the deceptive practices outlined in the lawsuit include a misrepresentation of the safety of the devices by concealing information about the chances for serious or irreversible complications involving surgical mesh including permanent and persistent pain during sexual intercourse, loss of sexual functioning, permanent urinary and defecatory dysfunctions, chronic pain and devastating effects on women’s quality of life.
Johnson & Johnson is also said to have failed to disclose that the surgical mesh devices they sold presented risks that were not present in other treatment alternatives and also failed to disclose the frequency and severity of common complications.
The most damning allegations state that Johnson & Johnson was aware of the potential risks and complications prior to launching their surgical mesh products, but deliberately omitted that information from marketing and educational materials provided to patients and doctors.
In a statement first reported on oag.ca.gov, Attorney General Harris spoke about the lawsuit.
“Johnson & Johnson put millions of women at risk of severe health problems by failing to provide critical information to doctors and patients about its surgical mesh products. Johnson & Johnson’s deception denied women the ability to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. My office will continue to hold companies accountable for misleading consumers and patients for financial gain.”
Between 2008 and 2014, 787,232 surgical mesh devices were sold by Johnson & Johnson. 42,000 devices were sold in California alone in that 6 year time period. Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 2 million women have received surgical mesh implants.
In addition to this most current lawsuit, Johnson & Johnson is also facing more than 35,000 personal injury lawsuits in state and federal courts surrounding the sale of its surgical mesh products.