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High Court tosses out Johnson & Johnson appeal over landmark pelvic mesh payout

The High Court has tossed out an appeal by pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to overturn a landmark ruling on its faulty pelvic mesh implants.

Last year the company and its subsidiary Ethicon was ordered to pay $2.6m in damages to three women who suffered serious health complications as a result of the implants.

Following the class action the court ruled the “unmerchantable” products should “never have been on the Australian market” and were not “fit for purpose”.

Camera IconPharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson was ordered last year to pay millions of dollars in damages to three women who suffered serious health issues as a result of the company’s faulty pelvic mesh implants. Credit: News Corp Australia

The company had sought special leave to appeal to the High Court after its first appeal to the Federal Court fell through earlier this year.

The High Court on Friday dismissed their application.

Pelvic mesh is a woven synthetic netting implanted into the pelvis for a variety of conditions, usually pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.

However, transvaginal mesh was banned in Australia in 2017 as a result of reports of serious health issues arising from the procedure.

Carina Anderson had a TVT Abbrevo implant procedure in 2011. She has spent the last ten years in pain experiencing erosion, infections, damage to her pelvic organs, nerves, tissues and suffers from ongoing mesh related complications.
Camera IconCarina Anderson suffers from ongoing mesh-related complications. Credit: Supplied

Carina Anderson, one of the women who joined the class action in 2014, says she has suffered infections and damage to her pelvic organs, nerves and tissues since having the mesh implants 10 years ago.

She said the mesh had caused her “unbearable pain” and left her bedridden.

“The nerve damage from the mesh resulted in paralysis in my legs. I was unable to sit or bend down and was crippled with fatigue,” Ms Anderson said.

“Today’s win is acknowledgment of 10 years of suffering. It tells me and other mesh-impacted women that we have been heard.”

Hundreds of women who experienced painful side effects from pelvic mesh implants are set to get compensation for their suffering. The Federal Court found pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson did not do enough to inform doctors and patients of the risks involved.

The landmark class action was launched in 2012 and culminated in a seven-month trial from July 2017.

Lead applicants Kathryn Gill, Ann Sanders and Diane Dawson – who were awarded the hefty damage payouts – testified of the excruciating pain they suffered after their mesh implants went wrong.

In 2019 Federal Court Justice Anna Katzmann found Johnson & Johnson and subsidiaries had acted negligently and gave surgeons “inadequate and, in some respects, misleading” instructions on how to use the mesh.

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