Just hours before Johnson & Johnson was set to defend itself from claims that it failed to properly inform the people of Washington State of the risks involved with the use of its pelvic mesh products, the corporation settled the case with the attorney general’s office for $9.9 million.
In agreeing to the settlement, J&J has admitted to no wrongdoing, but Washington State will now begin the process of establishing a methodology to distribute the funds to thousands of women who have been injured by the devices.
The onus will likely fall to the victims to reach out to the state and come forward with their claims, as privacy laws preclude the state’s attorney general from simply requesting records of every woman in Washington State that may be eligible for compensation. That number may be in excess of 14,000 according to the Seattle Times, and the AG’s office is asking women to contact them so they can have a claims administrator return their call.
Pelvic meshes were designed as a way of providing internal support to organs that may have moved out of place as a result of pregnancy or other conditions. Unfortunately, design and manufacturing errors in the meshes have led to a variety of adverse events including migration of the device and organ perforation. These events have caused intense pain and bleeding in patients and have resulted in additional surgeries to repair the damage when possible and remove the mesh.
The FDA stopped sales of pelvic meshes in the United States earlier this year after declaring them to be “high-risk” devices. Over 100,000 pelvic mesh lawsuit cases are waiting to be heard in courtrooms across the country so while one state’s settlement may be seen as a step toward a broader overall move to resolve the situation, there is still a long way to go.