Activist group targets J&J and its transvaginal mesh lawsuits with social media attack

Anger vibrates from every element of a new social media campaign aimed directly at Johnson & Johnson. Johnson and Johnson Hurts Women is the web site address. The logo features a weeping eye and there is a “countdown to the truth” ticker on the site. The organizers are asking current and former employees to become […]

Anger vibrates from every element of a new social media campaign aimed directly at Johnson & Johnson. Johnson and Johnson Hurts Women is the web site address. The logo features a weeping eye and there is a “countdown to the truth” ticker on the site.

The organizers are asking current and former employees to become whistleblowers, investors to divest or not buy any J&J stock in the first place.

Last month the Corporate Action Network filed a complaint with the Department of Justice against Johnson & Johnson and its top executives, including Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky for destroying documents critical to lawsuits brought by thousands of women seriously injured by the company’s pelvic mesh implants.

“Over 20,000 women have been injured by Johnson and Johnson’s pelvic implants,” said CAN spokeswoman Levana Layendecker. “We believe that this ad campaign will provide us additional information to share with the public.”

CAN specializes in calling out corporate misdeeds, having taken on Walmart and Wall Street recently on behalf of employees and mortgage holders respectively. CAN said its goal is to put an end to Johnson & Johnson’s continued marketing of dangerous medical devices and disregard for health and safety. Most of the focus is on the transvaginal mesh, but the site mentions hip implants and Risperdal as well. The implant was also produced by Boston Scientific Corp, C.R. Bard, Inc., Coloplast Corp., and Cook Medical Inc.

Last February a jury ruled that Johnson & Johnson should pay a South Dakota woman $3.35 million for failing to warn her doctor adequately of the potential dangers of a vaginal mesh implant made by the company’s Ethicon subsidiary. It was the first verdict among some 1,800 vaginal mesh cases pending in New Jersey against Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson, and it could affect thousands of lawsuits against other manufacturers of similar products. The suit said she had to seek medical treatment and had 18 operations to repair the damage caused by the mesh. Just last week Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a Texas jury to pay $1.2 million to a woman who alleged one of the company’s lines of vaginal-mesh implants was defectively designed.

A clinical trial of the devices was stopped early in 2009. In an article in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, the researchers say safety reviewers observed that more than 15 percent of the patients who received the mesh experienced erosion, a potentially serious complication in which the skin splits and the mesh protrudes, often resulting in pain and infections.

This anger is justified. If you haven’t read about the details of the problems with J&J’s product, it is just as gruesome as it sounds. Reading about how the device fails and how painful the fix is (multiple surgeries) generates the kind of images that make you clutch your stomach and fold over just imagining what it must be like to have one of those devices in your pelvis.

The original problem is bad enough: pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence in women. In trying to find a fix for those problems, many women who had the mesh implanted had serious complications, such as erosion and organ perforation. The least Johnson & Johnson can do is pay for their care and stop fighting the lawsuits.