New Jerseys Johnson Johnson Ending Pelvic Mesh Sales

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Johnson & Johnson appears to be getting out of the vaginal mesh business, at least somewhat. According to reports out today, the New Jersey-based company has informed judges overseeing patient product liability lawsuit cases against the company that it plans to stop selling four mesh products within the next nine months.

The plastic mesh products have been used by doctors for years to shore up the pelvic wall in women who have suffered a condition called pelvic organ prolapse. That’s a situation in which the bladder and sometimes reproductive organs begin to slip and push into a female patient’s vaginal area. Incontinence and other issues have been associated with the condition.

It’s estimated that doctors used the mesh products in more than 75,000 U.S. women last year alone. It’s uncertain how many women in all may have the implants. Having initially been touted as an advancement over more traditional solutions, mesh products have been in use for more than a decade. But the products have become the source of increased scrutiny in recent years.

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that the mesh devices have been linked to rising rates of pain, bleeding and infection when compared with traditional solutions involving surgery and stitches. The FDA has never said the products shouldn’t be used, but has said that they don’t seem to provide any better relief than surgical procedures. And earlier this year, it ordered the six top manufacturers of the products, including J&J, to do a better job of tracking the frequency and nature of problems being reported by mesh patients.

The J&J letter to the courts says it hopes to see that order rescinded once it has stopped selling the mesh products. It insists that the reason it is ending the sales isn’t because of the supposed dangers the products pose. Rather, it suggests that market changes are such that it’s not worth selling the products anymore.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Pelvic Mesh Implant Sales Halted By Johnson And Johnson,” Matthew Perrone, Associated Press, June 6, 2012

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