While Hernia Mesh Lawsuits Continue, Johnson & Johnson Notches Court Win Against Mesh Counterfeiter

Medical Devices

According to Drug Watch, as of July 2020, there were 8,739 hernia mesh lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson (J & J) subsidiary Ethicon as well as two other makers of the medical device (Bard and Atrium). Also as of July, Ethicon faces almost 3,000 lawsuits in a Georgia Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) over its Physiomesh Flexible Composite. 

Despite the unresolved lawsuits, Ethicon’s parent company recently experienced a win when a judge awarded J & J with an injunction over an Illinois-based company—Advanced Inventory Management (AIM)—that’s been accused of selling counterfeit and expired Ethicon surgical devices, SecuringIndustry.com reports. 

The injunction bars AIM from using Ethicon’s trademarks or claiming association with the J & J subsidiary. Awarded a temporary restraining order against AIM in June, Ethicon would have likely won its lawsuit, hence the judge granting the injunction. AIM runs a medical supply website, esutures.com, which sells Ethicon devices as well as those from other companies including Medtronic and Bard.

AIM maintains that the lawsuit is without merit, and its website purchases surplus inventory from other suppliers including “in-date, short-dated and expired products in full selling units, open boxes and even loose, individual items.”

The esutures.com website is accused of selling hernia mesh devices with the Ethicon trademark. Not only were the mesh devices defective, they were also contaminated with bacteria. The company is also under criminal investigation by the FDA, according to a Reuters report.

Faulty hernia mesh devices are blamed for a long laundry list of side effects, including chronic abdominal pain and digestive disorders, infections, and cancer. 

According to SecuringIndustry.com, allegedly counterfeit surgical devices were made by M/S Medserve, a company based in Delhi, India. M/S Medserve had previously supplied counterfeit and contaminated surgical hernia mesh sold by RAM Medical in a lawsuit brought by the US Department of Justice several years ago. RAM pleaded guilty to the charges and acknowledged that the mesh was fake. 

Up to 6,000 counterfeit hernia mesh devices may have been used, putting surgical patients at serious risk for infection, documents from the Ethicon court case show. The lawsuit against AIM seeks $25 million in punitive damages from each of the defendants named in the action. Four AIM executives are among the defendants.

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