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Johnson & Johnson halts sales of vaginal mesh

Earlier this week, a unit of New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson announced that it planned to discontinue sales of its vaginal mesh implants. The company denies that the decision was made in response to the product liability lawsuits that have been filed in connection with the mesh, but that the "negative overall publicity about vaginal mesh devices" motivated the discontinuation.

According to a Johnson & Johnson spokesman, the company has asked the FDA for permission to stop selling four vaginal mesh products within the next four months, after doctors have time to find suitable alternatives. The company also sent a letter to the New Jersey judges who are overseeing the product liability litigation on medical devices manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and other organizations, informing them of the FDA request.

In addition, Johnson has asked the FDA to abolish the requirement that the company conduct additional research into the Gynecare brand of vaginal mesh products. It will be interesting to see how the FDA responds to this request, because while the four recalled devices are from the Gynecare brand, Johnson still intends to sell a different product from that brand as well as several related devices.

It will also be very interesting to see how the discontinuation affects the more than 1,000 product liability suits that have been filed against Johnson and its Ethicon unit, which manufactured the vaginal mesh products at issue. According to one personal injury attorney who is representing several women in their lawsuits against Johnson, the move could be very helpful to the plaintiffs' case. "I think the timing of everything is going to make it very hard for them to convince the jury that they don't believe safety isn't tied to their decision," he said.

If you have been injured by a dangerous or defective medical device, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.

Source: Reuters, "J&J to stop selling controversial vaginal implants," Anna Yukhananov and Ransdell Pierson, June 5, 2012

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