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September 24, 2020

AGs reach $60 million settlement over surgical mesh

C.R. Bard failed to disclose risks to women  

DES MOINES — Attorney General Tom Miller announced a settlement by 48 states and the District of Columbia with C.R. Bard, Inc. and its parent company Becton, Dickinson and Co. requiring payment of $60 million for the deceptive marketing of transvaginal surgical mesh devices.

Miller and the attorneys general allege that the company violated state consumer protection laws by misrepresenting the safety and effectiveness of the devices and failing to sufficiently disclose risks associated with their use, according to a petition filed Thursday in Polk County District Court. Iowa will receive $809,827 under the settlement.

“Women suffered serious complications, and in some cases permanent injury, after surgeons implanted these devices,” Miller said. “Yet C.R. Bard failed to disclose these risks to doctors and patients.”

Surgical mesh is a synthetic knitted or woven fabric that is permanently implanted in the pelvic floor through the vagina to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.  These are common conditions faced by women due to a weakening in their pelvic floor muscles caused by childbirth, age, and other factors. 

Thousands of women implanted with surgical mesh have made claims that they suffered serious complications resulting from these devices, including erosion of mesh through organs, pain during sexual intercourse, and voiding dysfunction.  Although use of surgical mesh involves the risk of these serious complications and is not proven to be more effective than traditional tissue repair, millions of women were implanted with these devices.

In October 2019, Miller and other attorneys general reached a $116.9 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Ethicon, Inc. over their deceptive marketing of transvaginal surgical mesh devices.

Patients around the country have filed thousands of private lawsuits against makers of transvaginal mesh. Many of the lawsuits have been consolidated into a multi-district litigation in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of West Virginia.

The attorneys general allege that C.R. Bard misrepresented or failed to adequately disclose serious and life-altering risks of surgical mesh devices, such as chronic pain, scarring and shrinking of bodily tissue, painful sexual relations, and recurring infections, among other complications. 

Although C.R. Bard stopped selling transvaginal mesh, the settlement provides injunctive relief, requiring both C.R. Bard and Becton, Dickinson and Co. to adhere to certain injunctive terms if they reenter the transvaginal mesh market.

Under the terms of the consent judgment, the companies are required to:

  • Provide patients with understandable descriptions of complications in marketing materials.
  • Include a list of certain complications in all marketing materials that address complications.
  • Disclose complications related to the use of mesh in any training provided that includes risk information.
  • Disclose sponsorship in clinical studies, clinical data, or preclinical data for publication.
  • Refrain from citing to any clinical study, clinical data, or preclinical data regarding mesh, for which the company has not complied with the disclosure requirements.
  • Require consultants to agree to disclose in any public presentation or submission for publication Bard’s sponsorship of the contracted for activity.
  • Register all Bard-sponsored clinical studies regarding mesh with ClinicalTrials.gov.
  • Train independent contractors, agents, and employees who sell, market, or promote mesh, regarding their obligations to report all patient complaints and adverse events to the company.
  • Ensure that its practices regarding the reporting of patient complaints are consistent with FDA requirements.

Joining Iowa in this multistate settlement are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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