News Feature | September 15, 2014

Boston Scientific Loses $73M Suit Over Transvaginal Mesh Device

By Jof Enriquez,
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq

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After winning the first two cases over its transvaginal mesh devices, Boston Scientific lost a third case recently after jurors in a Texas state court in Dallas ordered the company to pay a woman $73 million for injuries caused by the company’s Obtryx incontinence sling.

Jurors took only a day of deliberations before handing a verdict against Boston Scientific. The company was ordered to pay plaintiff Martha Salazar $23 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages, Bloomberg reported.

Salazar’s lawyer Dave Matthews presented as evidence an email dated August 2000 from Boston Scientific executive Alex Robbins, who allegedly ordered salespeople to ignore a study presenting safety risks involving their incontinence sling product. Jurors found the company liable for gross negligence and awarded Salazar punitive damages.

“This woman was seeking help with minor urine leakage and wound up with a catastrophic, life-altering injury that required four major surgeries,” Matthews told Bloomberg. “It’s a tragedy that these slings are still on the market.” Matthews said his client can no longer sit comfortably and walk normally as a result of her complications.

Salazar had only suffered from stress urinary incontinence when coughing or exercising before her implantation. After the surgery, she claimed that she “suffered from intense pain, dyspareunia and irreversible nerve damage to the femoral and obturator nerve,” according to a press release citing her testimony in court.

Boston Scientific is facing over 12,000 lawsuits over transvaginal mesh devices and slings. Those suits, along with 19,300 Johson & Johnson (Ethicon), 18,000 American Medical Systems (AMS), 9,500 C.R. Bard Avaulta, 1,600 Coloplast, 250 Cook Medical, and 66 Neomedic mesh device suits have been consolidated under multidistrict litigation in the Southern District of West Virginia, according to The Legal Examiner

That court recently ordered J&J’s Ethicon unit to pay a woman $3.27 million for damages after suffering injuries from the company’s Gynecare TVT Obturator device post-implantation. Jurors found Ethicon’s product to have faulty design, and the subsidiary liable for failing to warn physicians and patients of the risks of implanting the device, Reuters reported.

The U.S. FDA in 2012 had ordered J&J, Boston Scientific, and 30 other manufacturers of transvaginal mesh devices to study rates of complications associated with the products, according to Bloomberg.