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Appeals court: J&J must pay $302M in pelvic mesh case

Appeals court: J&J must pay $302M in pelvic mesh case

A California appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling that Johnson & Johnson must pay $302 million in fines to the state for its fraudulent marketing of women’s pelvic network implants.

SAN DIEGO — A California appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that Johnson & Johnson should pay fines to the state for its fraudulent marketing of pelvic retinal implants to women, but reduced the amount by $42 million to $302 million.

Johnson & Johnson appealed the appeal in 2020 after Supreme Court Justice Eddie Sturgeon assessed $344 million in penalties against Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary Ethicon.

Sturgeon discovered after a non-jury trial that the company had made misleading and potentially harmful statements in hundreds of thousands of advertisements and educational brochures for nearly two decades.

California’s 4th District Court of Appeals ruled Monday that $42 million in fines assessed for the company’s sales pitches to physicians were unjustified because there was no evidence of what the salespeople actually said.

But the appeals court said Sturgeon fish received ample evidence that Ethicon intentionally deceived doctors and patients about the risks posed by its products, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Ryan Karpin, a spokesman for Johnson & Johnson, told the Chronicle that the company will appeal the appeals court ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Instructions for use in all of the company’s pelvic mesh implant packages “fake or omit the full scope, risk, duration, and cause of complications associated with Ethicon pelvic mesh products, as well as the potential for irreversibility and potentially catastrophic consequences,” Chief Justice Judith McConnell of the Court of Appeals said in a ruling. 3-0 with $302 million in fines.

It dismissed the company’s claim that the fine was excessive, saying it amounted to less than 1% of Johnson & Johnson’s net worth of $70.4 billion.

The products, also called transvaginal mesh, are synthetic and are surgically implanted through the vagina of women who have sagging pelvic organs or who have experienced urinary incontinence when coughing, sneezing, or lifting heavy objects.

Several women have sued the New Jersey-based company claiming that the mesh caused severe pain, bleeding, inflammation, discomfort during intercourse and the need for removal surgery.

It is estimated that the condition affects 3% to 17% of women, and sometimes becomes severe after age 70.

Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest maker of healthcare products, is challenging other lawsuits over the drug’s side effects, its role in the opioid epidemic in the United States, and allegations that baby powder caused cancer in some users.

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