6,000 lawsuits filed against vaginal mesh manufacturers

Thousands of women in the United States have filed suit against the makers of surgical mesh implants after the devices caused serious complications, including pain, bleeding, infection and scarring. Most of the women had the vaginal mesh implanted as a way to treat weakened or damaged tissue that causes urinary incontinence. Although the procedure can be successful, many women found that their medical conditions had worsened as a result of the surgery.

At this point, more than 6,000 lawsuits have been filed throughout the country against the largest manufacturers of the products. The lawsuits have all been consolidated in West Virginia federal court, and it is expected that the first trials will begin this year. The lawsuits all accuse the manufacturers of marketing the products without sufficient testing or warnings on potential risks. The manufacturers have denied the claims.

The Food and Drug Administration was quick to approve the mesh products in 2002, and a 2008 public notice said programs with the products were “rare.” However, in 2011, the FDA rescinded this claim and concluded that about 10 percent of women who have the vaginal mesh implants end up with complications within a year of surgery, primarily erosion of the mesh and infections. The FDA then ordered the manufacturers to conduct in-depth testing on the complication rates.

A plaintiff in one of the lawsuits is a 63-year-old woman from Georgia who says her surgical mesh implant nearly destroyed her life. She had the surgery in 2006 in effort to correct weak muscles in her pelvic area, but soon began suffering complications. The woman experienced infections, intense pain, weakness, discomfort and fatigue for years before finally concluding that the mesh implant was the problem.

In 2011, the woman had most of the mesh removed, and though she still feels weak and has trouble with urinary incontinence, she said she feels better than she has in years. The woman is now seeking an unnamed sum in a lawsuit against the manufacturer of her mesh implant.

Source: Associated Press, “Thousands of Women Sue Over Surgical Mesh,” Kate Brumback, Feb. 8, 2013