With bellwether trials for cases related to transvaginal mesh damages just months away, lawsuits against vaginal mesh makers including Endo’s American Medical Systems (AMS) and Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon continue to mount.

Approximately 40,000 transvaginal mesh injury lawsuits are currently pending in various multidistrict lawsuits, and many believe that number will keep rising as more women cope with complications. Transvaginal mesh products were intended to help support the pelvic organs in women who underwent surgical treatment of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received thousands of reports of adverse effects, including multiple deaths, associated with transvaginal mesh. These potentially dangerous medical devices may harden, erode or migrate within the body after surgical implantation, which can result in severe vaginal pain and other complications including:

  • Infection
  • Internal bleeding
  • Organ damage
  • Scarring

The injuries caused by transvaginal mesh often require emergency revision surgery. Pending lawsuits against AMS, Johnson & Johnson and other vaginal mesh makers allege that the companies who manufacture and market transvaginal mesh failed to warn patients of the potential risks.

A federal bellwether trial against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon division is scheduled to begin in February; a bellwether case over AMS transvaginal mesh is set to start in April. Previous bellwether transvaginal mesh cases, including those stemming from C.R. Bard vaginal mesh devices, have resulted in substantial awards and settlements for plaintiffs.

Hundreds of thousands of women received transvaginal mesh in the correction of POP or SUI in recent years; an article in The New York Times stated that about 185,000 women were treated with transvaginal mesh in 2010 alone. A recent article on the legal news site LawyersandSettlements.com indicated that transvaginal mesh injury claims could top 50,000.