Surgical mesh has been around for decades. In the 1950s, it was solely used to repair hernias. However, in the mid 1990s, the Food and Drug Administration approved the product to treat weak pelvic floor muscles-mainly in females. Manufactures then began manufacturing transvaginal mesh.
What is transvaginal mesh?
Transvaginal mesh is essentially a synthetic surgical mesh sling. The mesh device is utilized to treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse-a condition that occurs when the pelvic muscles become too weak to support the body's internal organs. The mesh device is also used to treat Stress Urinary Incontinence, a condition in which the muscles cannot hold in urine.
Many females received the implant because both conditions typically happen as a result of child birth.
However, soon after transvaginal mesh became available and utilized on the market, hundreds of thousands of females began experiencing serious problems. Along with severe pain, females experienced erosion of the vaginal epithelium, infection, and urinary problems.
Many individuals had to undergo surgical procedures, blood transfusions and abscess draining to correct the problems that stemmed from the defective mesh device.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of civil lawsuits were filed all across the country against the various manufacturers of the product including Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Ethicon (a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary), Boston Scientific, and C.R. Bard, among others.
However, due to the common question of fact among all situations, the cases were consolidated under what's referred to as multidistrict litigation, or MDL. In MDL, cases are combined and transferred under one jurisdiction with one judge. When so many similar cases are involved, MDL helps to speed up the process and decrease the strain on the court system.
Presently, there are six different MDL consolidations with roughly 40,000 individual transvaginal mesh cases pending across the U.S.
Trial scheduled for MDL-2324
According to the latest reports, MDL-2324 pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia has been scheduled for trial with Judge Joseph R. Goodwin presiding. The defendants include American Medical Systems, Inc. (an Endo Pharmaceutical company) and five other transvaginal mesh device manufacturers.
The first trial is expected to begin April 7, 2014.
Hope for victims
The consolidated cases, however, are likely to settle. Last year, Endo Pharmaceutical, Inc. paid out a $54.5 million dollar settlement to compensate victims injured by the mesh implant.
Bloomberg, an online source for business, economic and financial information, estimates that there are roughly 13,500 state and federal lawsuits currently pending against American Medical Systems.