Johnson & Johnson Settles Pelvic Mesh Sale Claims for $117 Million


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Johnson & Johnson, facing potentially costly litigation over opioids and baby powder, has agreed to pay $117 million to settle claims brought by dozens of states that said it deceptively marketed transvaginal pelvic mesh implants.

The settlement with attorneys general from 41 states and the District of Columbia was announced Thursday.

Pelvic mesh products have been at the heart of roughly $8 billion in personal-injury settlements between several manufacturers and tens of thousands of women in the United States.

This year, the Food and Drug Administration, after years of complaints, stopped the sale of pelvic mesh to treat a condition called organ prolapse. Johnson & Johnson had stopped selling pelvic mesh to treat that condition in 2012, but it and other manufacturers still sell similar products to treat urinary incontinence in women.

Women have complained about intense pain and bleeding after receiving mesh implants. In some cases, women have had additional surgery to remove the implants — a procedure that can be fraught with its own problems.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said the settlement, which also covers its subsidiary Ethicon, was not an admission of liability or misconduct. Attorneys general from states including Florida, Texas and Ohio led the negotiations.

“Women in Indiana and across the country have suffered as a result of the actions of Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon Inc.,” Curtis Hill, the Indiana attorney general, said in a statement. His state will receive $4.4 million under the agreement.

The settlement does not include California, which took Johnson & Johnson to court this summer. That state is seeking up to $800 million in damages over claims that Johnson & Johnson deceived tens of thousands of women and doctors about the benefits of pelvic mesh to treat both organ prolapse and incontinence. Testimony concluded last month, but the judge has not yet ruled.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson have come under pressure this year from the mounting costs of litigation.

In August, a judge ordered the company to pay $572 million to Oklahoma after finding that Johnson & Johnson intentionally played down the dangers of opioids while it oversold their benefits. Last week, a Philadelphia jury awarded $8 billion in punitive damages to a Maryland man who said he hadn’t been warned that the antipsychotic drug Risperdal could cause enlarged breasts in boys. About 10,000 others have raised similar claims.

The company planned to challenge those rulings.

Johnson & Johnson has had mixed results defending itself against lawsuits that claimed the talc in its baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos. Internal company documents reviewed by The New York Times indicate that the company knew there were concerns about asbestos contamination in talc for decades, but did not warn customers.


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