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Update November, 2019


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Health & Wellbeing
 

J&J agrees to $117M settlement over pelvic mesh devices

In this July 30, 2013, file photo, large banners hang in an atrium at the headquarters of Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, N.J. Johnson & Johnson has agreed to a $117 million multistate settlement over allegations it deceptively marketed its pelvic mesh products, which support women’s sagging pelvic organs. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

Linda A. Johnson

Trenton, N.J. (AP) — Johnson & Johnson has agreed to a $117 million multistate settlement over allegations it deceptively marketed its pelvic mesh products, which support women’s sagging pelvic organs.

Ohio’s attorney general said Thursday an investigation found that J&J, 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 its Ethicon surgical products unit reached the settlement with 41 states and the District of Columbia.

“These companies didn’t paint a clear picture of the device’s medical risks, preventing patients from making well-informed decisions,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a statement.

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 sometimes becomes 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.”

“Ethicon has acted appropriately and responsibly in the research, development and marketing of our transvaginal mesh products,” which were launched around the world in 1998, she added.

About 25,000 U.S. women with complications have sued Johnson & Johnson, the company said. Those lawsuits aren’t affected by the settlement.

It comes as J&J is swamped with thousands of lawsuits claiming patients were harmed by products including baby powder, opioid painkillers and prescription drugs such as its schizophrenia drug Risperdal. Headlines about the litigation and big jury verdicts against J&J, including an $8 billion punitive award to a young man who grew breasts while taking Risperdal, have depressed J&J’s stock price for nearly a year. Most of the verdicts against J&J have been overturned or are being appealed.

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.

The settlement covers the District of Columbia and these states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Ethicon said it settled separately with Washington State and has cases pending in California, Kentucky, Mississippi and West Virginia.

J&J shares closed Thursday up $1.00 to $136.17, still well below their 52-week high of $148.99 late last fall.


Vaping-related illnesses still rising, though at slower pace

In this Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 photo, a man using an electronic cigarette exhales in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Vaping-related illnesses in the U.S. are still rising, though at a slightly slower pace. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Mike Stobbe

New York (AP) — Vaping-related illnesses in the U.S. are still rising, though at a slightly slower pace.

Health officials of Thursday said there have been 1,479 cases and at least 33 deaths in the mysterious outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been releasing new case counts each week. The latest jump — 180 cases — was the lowest increase since mid-September. But CDC officials say there’s no indication that the outbreak is waning.

The outbreak appears to have started in March. Symptoms of the illness include severe shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest pain. No single ingredient, electronic cigarette or vaping device has been linked to all the illnesses.

Most who got sick said they vaped products containing THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana. Investigators say they are increasingly focused on black-market THC products.

About 1 in 10 of the outbreak cases said they used only nicotine but that percentage has been falling. It was 13% last week. In some cases, people who initially claimed they had used only nicotine admitted later they had vaped THC.

Until a cause is pinpointed, the CDC is advising Americans to refrain from vaping.

Forty-nine states and one U.S. territory have reported illnesses. Only Alaska has not seen a case. The vast majority of cases are people in their teens, 20s or early 30s, according to the CDC..

  


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

J&J agrees to $117M settlement over pelvic mesh devices

Vaping-related illnesses still rising, though at slower pace