J&J Settles Claims by 41 States Over Risks of Vaginal Mesh for $117 Million

Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $117 million to settle 41 states’ claims that it misrepresented the risks of vaginal-mesh products used to bolster sagging organs and treat incontinence in women.

A group of state attorneys general argued after an investigation that marketing by J&J and its Ethicon unit misrepresented the safety of the device, which is alleged to damage organs and leave women in constant pain, according to Ohio Attorney General David Yost.

“These companies didn’t paint a clear picture of the devices’ medical risks, preventing patients from making well-informed decisions,” Yost said in an emailed statement. Ohio is getting $6.3 million under the deal, Yost added.

J&J officials said they had disclosed the multi-state probe to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The accord “involves no admission of liability or misconduct on the part of Ethicon,” Mindy Tinsley, a spokeswoman for the J&J unit, said in an emailed statement.

J&J still faces nearly 25,000 lawsuits filed by women who blame the vaginal mesh for their injuries, according to a July SEC filing. The company has incurred tens of millions of dollars in damages in the trial of some suits, while getting others thrown out at the trial or appellate level and settling still others.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson were up 1.4% to $137.02 at 2:09 p.m. in New York.

The pact comes as a California judge weighs whether to hit J&J with about $800 million in penalties over the state’s claims that the device was fraudulently marketed. It was the first state claim to go to trial over the products.

J&J agreed earlier this year to pay $10 million to Washington state to settle its claims on the eve of a trial in state court. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson had sued in 2016, alleging J&J and Ethicon violated his state’s consumer protection laws by not properly warning women about the mesh’s health risks.

In 2012, J&J agreed to stop selling four lines of vaginal mesh after facing complaints by thousands of women that the products, threaded into place through incisions in the vagina, eroded over time, causing pain and injuries.

States in the Settlement

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin (and the District of Columbia)