Last weekend I was watching an American TV show and during the commercial break there was an advertisement featuring a prominent law firm offering to represent woman who suffered complications as the result of her surgical mesh procedure. You have probably seen similar advertisements?even if you do not follow the gynecology device market, most people have heard about the surgical mesh lawsuits across the US and around the world. The surgical mesh controversy has been strong since 2011 when warnings about transvaginal mesh were first publicized. Three years later, over 70 000 lawsuits have been filed across the US, and that number is still growing. Women are stepping forward to demand compensation for the side effects they have experienced from the mesh they have used, but the mesh manufacturers stand behind their products.
We have been hearing the media noise around the litigation for years, but when will these lawsuits be resolved? 70 000 lawsuits could take decades to be heard in court, and the federal judge handling many of the cases has urged all the parties involved to avoid that. In February, District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin urged counsel to come to the table and resolve these cases. Judge Goodwin said he was going to ?kick it into high gear and ask that you do the same.? Many companies have already offered some settlements. In fact, American Medical Systems agreed to settle last year and set aside up to $1.6 billion to resolve 20,000 lawsuits. Coloplast has also settled a considerable amount of their lawsuits.
The future of the surgical mesh market is pending on these lawsuits. Until the litigation noise calms down, physicians will continue to be hesitant to have conversations with patients offering surgical mesh as a treatment option?even in the case of vaginal slings, which are still considered the gold standard for treating incontinence. You can read more about that in one of our previous blogs here. This is one of the biggest U.S. mass torts in history?let's see if Goodwin's recommendations influence the defendants? decisions on how to proceed.