Hernia Mesh Lawsuits Proceeding
One of the first lawsuits set to be heard over a controversial hernia mesh has been delayed from its January 2018 start. In 2013, Matthew Huff received a Johnson & Johnson Ethicon Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh used to treat his hernia. The hernia mesh is used in laparoscopic, ventral and inguinal hernia surgeries.
But Physiomesh is no longer on the market.
The hernia mesh was voluntarily recalled in May 2016 after studies showed it failed when compared to comparable meshes. The voluntary worldwide market withdrawal was conducted by Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson division, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its European counterparts.
Two unpublished studies, one in the Danish Medical Registry and the other in the German Medical Registry, suggested the failure rate for Physiomesh used in laparoscopic ventral hernia surgeries was higher than the other meshes used on patients in these registries.
Medical facilities were given until mid-September of that year to remove Physiomesh from their shelves.
What is Physiomesh?
Physiomesh is made of polypropylene, a type of cheap plastic. The studies found it broke down in its structure which can allow a hernia to recur or cause bacterial infections and swelling at the surgery site, requiring another surgery.
Physiomesh was approved under the 510(k) clearance of the FDA in April 2010.
It is made of a flexible composite mesh “composed of nonabsorbable, macroporous polypropylene mesh laminated between two undyed polyglecaprone-25 films. An undyed polydioxanone film provides the bond between the polyglecaprone-25 film and polypropylene mesh.”
How Hernia Mesh Can Cause Medical Complications
In Huff’s case, the Physiomesh implanted developed an infection which resulted in abdominal abscesses, an intestinal fistula, and surgery. He developed severe abdominal pain, fever, chills, nausea and redness and significant damage to his abdomen and intestine.
The product liability lawsuit accuses J&J of marketing an “unreasonably dangerous and defective product. It seeks medical expenses (both past and future), plus expenses for physical impairment, loss of enjoyment of life, lost wages and wage-earning capacity and compensation for physical pain and mental anguish, both past and in the future.”
This was the first Physiomesh case to be filed and in June of last year, it was transferred to multidistrict litigation to be heard in the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division. The court will consolidate a growing number of Physiomesh cases filed around the country.
Ethicon produced in excess of 300,000 Physiomesh units before its voluntary recall, so expect hundreds if not thousands of cases to come forward before this litigation is exhausted.