Victims of pelvic-mesh injuries won a landmark class-action case against Johnson & Johnson, and its companies, Ethicon Inc and Ethicon Sarl on November 21. Federal Court Justice Anna Katzmann ruled in favor of over 1300 female plaintiffs, criticising the three companies for failing to protect patients and denying liability.
The three companies have 21 days to file an appeal. Regardless, the outcome of this case could lead to one of the largest medical negligence payouts in Australian history.
Johnson & Johnson and its two companies put nine pelvic-mesh devices on the market as early as 1999. The products were surgically implanted through the vagina to treat uterus prolapse or stress urinary incontinence after childbirth. While the Therapeutic Goods Administration cleared the products to be utilised, the organisation did so with little to no evidence of the implants’ safety for patients.
As a result, 1350 women – in this case alone – have suffered complications, including hemorrhage, sepsis, pain during sex, incontinence, recurrent prolapse, chronic and acute pain and psychological trauma. These victims have needed ongoing medical support and care and continue to live in pain today. Many have had their lives turned upside-down, unable to sustain their careers as their medical needs and costs took over.
While over 1300 women were included in this class-action lawsuit, Justice Katzmann estimates over 8,000 women in Australia have been negatively impacted by pelvic mesh implants offered by Johnson & Johnson and its companies. To date, the business has sold over 90,000 pelvic mesh devices in the country.
While this case was launched in 2012, it wasn’t until July 2017 that hearings began. Plaintiffs stated that their action was not only for their own benefit, but for the many unknown Australian women who also may have been impacted by these unsafe medical devices.
“They brought this case, not merely for their own benefit, but also on behalf of other Australian women in similar positions,” Justice Katzmann said. “The number of such women is unknown.”
Johnson & Johnson and its companies defended their products, stating “all surgical procedures present risks.” Only time will tell the outcome of this case, but for now, the victims of medical negligence have won.