Johnson & Johnson has been fined $344 million for marketing and selling transvaginal mesh implants despite knowing the health risks, The Guardian reports. California state attorney general Xavier Becerra accused the company of knowing “the danger of its mesh products” and choosing to still put “profits ahead of the health of millions of women,” because, well, they were, and they did.
In 2018, Johnson & Johnson came under fire for launching its own vaginal mesh, the Prolift implant, despite knowing the mesh could harden inside the vagina, causing the patient pain. (They also did so without FDA approval.) In November 2019, the company lost a massive class action lawsuit in Australia’s federal court after more than 1,350 women sued the company’s subsidiary Ethicon for failing to disclose the dangers of vaginal mesh to its consumers, who complained of “suffered chronic pain, bleeding and severe discomfort during sexual intercourse after having the mesh surgically implanted.” One month earlier, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $117 million to settle claims across 41 states and D.C. for “deceptively marketing transvaginal pelvic mesh implants.” The company faces similar, ongoing ligation in Canada and Europe.
According to The Guardian, between 2008 and 2014, Johnson & Johnson sold over 780,000 pelvic mesh devices in the United States.
The health risks tied to vaginal mesh have been well documented for years—as early as 2011, the FDA has been criticized for approving the pelvic implant, which is surgically implanted and has been known to cause excruciating pain, even death. It wasn’t until July 2019 that FDA put a stop to the sale of implant for fears that it leads to pelvic organ prolapse. Which it can, as evidenced in New Zealand’s outright ban of the device in 2017.