The State of West Virginia has reached a $3.9 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson and two of its specialty corporations regarding the companies’ marketing of surgical mesh devices and hip replacement systems, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Monday.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit the state filed against the company in September 2019, alleging Johnson & Johnson and two of its specialty companies, Ethicon Inc. and Ethicon US LLC, engaged in unlawful, unfair and deceptive conduct in marketing the surgical mesh and hip replacement systems.
The case is the latest settlement against companies that manufactured the mesh devices throughout the United States. Mesh manufacturers have paid nearly $8 billion to women who suffered injuries after doctors implanted the mesh in them, according to a New York Times report.
“The improper marketing of medical products can put the health of consumers at risk,” Morrisey said in a news release Monday. “This settlement demonstrates our office’s commitment to hold accountable corporations who ignore potential risks and side effects or omit such crucial details from the materials provided to doctors and patients.”
Morrisey said by bringing an individual claim on behalf of the state, West Virginia received “significantly more funds” than it would have if it had joined a multi-state lawsuit.
Morrisey’s office can use the money for direct and indirect administrative costs, litigation costs and services or hold it for the Legislature to appropriate it. The money also can be used for distribution to taxpayers and/or consumers, according to the settlement.
There is a 5% cap on attorney fees for outside counsel, Morrisey said.
Johnson & Johnson will have to pay $2.4 million to the state in the next 30 days, another $1 million in May 2021 and the final $500,000 in September 2021, according to the settlement.
In the lawsuit, the state claimed Johnson & Johnson, along with subsidiaries Ethicon Inc. and Ethicon US LLC, misrepresented the effectiveness, properties, risks and safety history of the surgical mesh products in marketing and educational materials provided to patients and doctors, in personal meetings and in published medical articles.
The Attorney General alleged informational and marketing materials for the companies’ surgical mesh devices consistently omitted or concealed complications.
The settlement also resolves allegations that Johnson & Johnson and Medical Device Services Inc., formerly known as Depuy Inc. and Depuy Orthopedics, deceptively and unlawfully marketed, promoted and sold the ASR XL, Acetabular, ASR Hip Resurfacing and Pinnacle Ultamet metal-on-metal hip replacement systems, according to the news release.
Surgical mesh is used in the treatment of conditions caused by weakened or damaged tissues and muscles in the pelvic floor area, leading to what is commonly called a pelvic floor collapse, according to the news release. These conditions affect approximately one-third to one-half of women.