TRENTON, N.J. — The pharmaceutical and medical device giant Johnson & Johnson has agreed to a $117 million settlement with 41 states, including Maine, over allegations it deceptively marketed its pelvic mesh products.
Ohio’s attorney general said Thursday an investigation found the world’s biggest health products maker violated state consumer protection laws by not fully disclosing the devices’ risks. Numerous women who had the once-popular, hammock-like devices implanted claim they caused severe pain, bleeding, infections and other complications.
Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon, its surgical products unit, reached the settlement with 41 states. In a statement, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the company “didn’t paint a clear picture of the device’s medical risks, preventing patients from making well-informed decisions.”
Maine will get a $1.5 million share of the settlement money, according to Attorney General Aaron Frey’s office. The Democrat said in a statement the deal will “hopefully lead to greater transparency and patient safety moving forward.”
The products, also called transvaginal mesh, are a synthetic material surgically implanted through the vagina of women whose pelvic organs have sagged or who suffer from stress urinary incontinence — bladder leakage when they cough, sneeze or lift heavy objects. Such incontinence is estimated to affect 3% to 17% of women and can be severe after age 70.
Some of the products are still on the U.S. market, and hundreds of thousands of women have had the devices surgically implanted, according to Yost’s office. An Ethicon spokeswoman noted the settlement doesn’t include admission of any misconduct, and said the devices “are considered by many to be the gold standard for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence.”
Maine cities including Portland, Lewiston and Bangor are among more than 2,000 local government suing Johnson & Johnson and other opioid manufacturers and distributors in a Ohio case that could end in a settlement topping a total of $20 billion, according to Bloomberg News.
The pelvic mesh deal requires the company to cease its claims that surgical technique can eliminate any risks, as well as to disclose a list of risks, including loss of sexual function, mesh eroding into the vagina and the possible need for corrective surgery.
BDN writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.