The Fourth District Court of Appeals in California, in its April 11 ruling, reduced the size of the civil penalties against J&J’s Ethicon subsidiary by $42 million. The reasoning was that Ethicon couldn’t be fined over oral communications because there was no evidence of what its employees actually said in one-on-one communications with doctors.
However, the appeals court allowed most of the penalties levied by the Superior Court in San Diego County to stand, with J&J expected to pay the state $302 million.
The appeals court disagreed that the fines were excessive, noting that $302 million makes us less than 0.5% of Johnson & Johnson’s net worth.
A J&J spokesperson told media outlets that the company plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Pelvic mesh was arguably one of medtech’s greatest failures so far in the 21st century. The mesh products were meant to treat the weakening of the muscles and ligaments supporting a woman’s pelvic organs. But FDA in 2019 ordered Boston Scientific and Coloplast — the remaining companies selling the devices — to halt pelvic mesh distribution. At that point, there were already thousands of lawsuits and millions of dollars worth of settlements as women reported pain, excessive bleeding and loss of sexual function.
Johnson & Johnson sold more than 470,000 pelvic mesh products nationally from 2008 to 2014.