New Hampshire joins $60m national settlement over CR Bard surgical mesh
State to get $600,000 in deal as Atrium mesh suits pile up in Concord
In the case of CR Bard, now owned by Becton Dickinson, a New Jersey-based company that earned $17.3 billion in revenue last year, attorneys general of 48 states and the District of Columbia, charged that Bard downplayed the risk that its transvaginal surgical mesh devices – used to treat urinary incontinence by strengthening the vaginal floor –eroded though organs, causing pain during sexual intercourse and voiding dysfunction.
The cost to repair such damage costs the state money, since it funds Medicaid and state insurance health plans. According to state law, New Hampshire’s $661,071 share of the settlement would go to the Consumer Protection Bureau.
CR Bard is also the target of similar claims by individual plaintiffs:, including about 5,000 federal cases in Ohio and some 13,000 cases in Rhode Island, where CR Bard manufactured the product, according to Jonathan Orant, a lead attorney in the case.
Bard doesn’t make the product any more. It withdrew its mesh from the market in July 2012, after losing a $3.6 million verdict to just one woman who had complications with the device, the first manufacturer to lose such a case.
“Bard and BD have denied any wrongdoing and all allegations included in the litigation and chose to settle the matter to avoid the time and expense of further litigation,” said the company in a statement.
Other companies are also targeted by transvaginal mesh lawsuits, such as Johnson & Johnson, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Boston Scientific. The latter company has a facility in Manchester. Orant estimates that there have been some 150,000 transvaginal cases filed over the last decade or so.
Orant is also the lead attorney in a different class action involving a mesh – this one used in the intestine to repair a hernia – aimed at Atrium Medical Corp., a New Hampshire company.
As of Tuesday, 2,386 lawsuits have been filed against the Merrimack-based firm in U.S. District Court in Concord, which is handling the class action litigation. And they keep on coming – the last one was filed on Friday.
While the plaintiffs are from around the country, hundreds of New Hampshire residents have filed a separate class action in New Hampshire Superior Court.
All of the lawsuits blame Atrium’s C-QUR hernia mesh products, which are coated with a fish oil derivative (an Omega-3 product similar to the nutritional supplement), the company’s unique solution to adverse reactions.
But plaintiffs’ attorneys allege that the fish oil is a large part of the problem, along with the plastic mesh itself and the Federal Drug Administration’s medical device approval process.
Atrium was acquired in 2011 for $680 million by Maquet Cardiovascular, a New Jersey-based subsidiary of Getinge Group, a publicly traded Swedish firm. Both companies were named in the original lawsuit, but the plaintiffs dropped Getinge after a confidential settlement.
At present, there has been no interest in states starting their own lawsuits over hernia mesh, but that may change after cases like Atrium’s go to trial or are settled.
“We think there is a similarity, because there is the same underlying material involved,” said Orant. “We are hoping they take a closer look.”