J&J Ordered To Pay $302 Mln Penalty For Wrong Pelvic Mesh Implant Ads

An appeals court in California has upheld a lower court ruling that Johnson & Johnson is liable to pay penalties to the state for wrongly marketing pelvic mesh implants for women.

In 2020, the company had appealed against the ruling of superior court judge Eddie Sturgeon who assessed $344 million in penalties against J&J's subsidiary, Ethicon.
Following a non-jury trial, the judge arrived at the conclusion that the company had made many misleading and possibly harmful statements in several advertisements and instructional brochures over the past two decades.

California's fourth district court of appeals issued a ruling on Monday that $42 million as penalties for the company's sales pitches to doctors were not needed as there is no evidence of what the sales representatives actually did. As a result, the court reduced the amount to $302 million.

However, the appeals court said Sturgeon had got sufficient evidence that Ethicon knowingly deceived both physicians and patients about the risks posed by its products.

Commenting on the developments, Ryan Carbain, a Johnson & Johnson spokesperson, said that the company would appeal against the ruling to the state supreme court.
He said, "Ethicon responsibly communicated the risks and benefits of its trans-vaginal mesh products to doctors and patients and in full compliance with US Food and Drug Administration or FDA laws."

In the court ruling ordering the penalties, the judge said, "The instructions for use in all the company's pelvic mesh implant packages falsified or omitted the full range, severity, duration, and cause of complications associated with Ethicon's pelvic mesh products, as well as the potential irreversibility and catastrophic consequences."

The court also said that the fines are not excessive, as "the court found that Johnson & Johnson had a net worth of more than $70.4 billion."

Many women across the US have sued the company, alleging that the mesh caused severe pain, bleeding, infections, discomfort during intercourse and that it should be removed through surgery.

The condition is estimated to affect 3-17 percent of women and it sometimes becomes severe after age 70.

Pelvic mesh is surgically inserted to treat conditions like stress-related urinary incontinence, bladder leakage and organ prolapse.

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