In what is simply too common a story to our experienced product liability attorneys, mesh implants have become the latest medical treatment to skyrocket in usage, only to be proved dangerous and defective. Mesh implants went rapidly from a new, untested treatment to the standard, go-to treatment for middle aged and older women suffering from stress incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. But transvaginal mesh implants have proven to be far more painful and dangerous then the conditions they were designed to treat.
In fact, transvaginal mesh implants can and do frequently cause life-altering, debilitating pain, infection, bleeding, painful or impossible intercourse, and other devastating side effects. The problems are so pronounced that a congressional investigation is now underway. The mesh implants also now come with mandated federal safety warnings. And now, hundreds of lawsuits are underway on behalf of victims of these dangerous implants. These combined events have led many, including our products liability lawyers, to question whether the FDA should simply remove the devices from the market entirely.
Transvaginal mesh can be made from biological or synthetic materials. It is put in place surgically, either using abdominal surgery, a laparoscope, or a transvaginal procedure. In theory, the mesh is then absorbed by the patient’s body, creating a permanent solution to prolapsed organs (organs falling out of place or even into the vagina) or incontinence.
However, particularly when the transvaginal procedure is used, there is a clear risk of serious complications. The FDA is thus imploring surgeons to consider using other treatments, rather than transvaginal mesh, to treat these conditions. In fact, the agency advises doctors that these conditions can almost always be successfully treated with other treatments, such as stitches or a removable “pressary” device. The agency has also ordered various mesh manufacturers to conduct additional long-term safety studies.
Meanwhile, the federal courts have consolidated hundreds of individual products liability lawsuits against mesh makers. Because various experts put the rate of complications at between 1 percent and 10 percent of women treated, these cases still represent only a fraction of actual victims. And the fact that the body absorbs the mesh means that the damage is often irreversible, as the mesh cannot be removed.
We urge Congress and the FDA to take immediate, definitive action to stop the use of dangerous transvaginal mesh implants. In the meantime, private products liability attorneys such as we at Passen & Powell will continue to seek justice on behalf of the victims of this latest defective medical product.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago products liability lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.