Attorney General Kamala D. Harris filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) for false advertising and deceptive marketing of its surgical mesh products for women.
The complaint alleges that J&J neglected to inform both patients and doctors of possible severe complications and misrepresented the frequency and severity of risks.
California co-led a multistate investigation, including 46 states and the District of Columbia, into J&J’s surgical mesh products for women, and is seeking injunctive relief and monetary penalties to ensure that J&J stops its deceptive practices.
"Johnson & Johnson put millions of women at risk of severe health problems by failing to provide critical information to doctors and patients about its surgical mesh products," said Attorney General Harris.
"Johnson & Johnson’s deception denied women the ability to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. My office will continue to hold companies accountable for misleading consumers and patients for financial gain."
The surgical mesh device is designed to treat common health conditions in women such as stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
The lawsuit alleges that J&J misrepresented the safety of these devices by concealing the possibility of serious and irreversible complications caused by mesh, including permanent pain with intercourse and/or loss of sexual function, chronic pain, permanent urinary or defecatory dysfunction, and potentially devastating impact on overall quality of life.
J&J also misrepresented the severity and frequency of common complications, and failed to disclose that its surgical mesh devices presented risks not present in alternative treatment options.
The suit further claims that J&J knew about potential risks and side effects prior to the launch of their mesh products, yet omitted that information from educational and marketing materials provided to doctors and patients.
J&J sold 787,232 devices nationally from 2008 to 2014, including more than 42,000 in California for that same time period. Worldwide, more than 2 million women had been implanted with these mesh products.
In addition to the lawsuit filed today, J&J faces over 35,000 personal injury lawsuits in state and federal court related to its surgical mesh products.