(HealthDay News) — Johnson & Johnson must pay $302 million to the state of California for deceptive marketing of pelvic mesh implants for women, an appeals court ruled. That is $42 million less than the $344 million originally assessed in 2020.
Superior Court Judge Eddie Sturgeon had ruled in an earlier nonjury trial that the company had made statements about pelvic mesh implants that were both misleading and potentially harmful. Those claims had appeared for nearly two decades in advertising and brochures.
In reducing the company’s penalties, the California Fourth District Court of Appeal found no evidence of what sales representatives said in pitches to doctors, the Associated Press reported. The court upheld the other $302 million in penalties in a 3-0 ruling.
The products at the center of the trial were known as transvaginal mesh implants. In lawsuits, women who received the implanted mesh alleged that it caused them severe pain, bleeding, infections, and discomfort during intercourse and needed to be surgically removed.
Presiding Justice Judith McConnell rejected the company’s claim that the fine was excessive, the AP reported. It is less than 1 percent of the $70.4 billion net worth of Johnson & Johnson. McConnell said instructions for the company’s Ethicon subsidiary’s pelvic mesh implant packages “falsified or omitted the full range, severity, duration, and cause of complications associated with Ethicon’s pelvic mesh products, as well as the potential irreversibility and catastrophic consequences,” the AP reported.
Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court, said Ryan Carbain, a company spokesman, the AP reported. The company continues to face other lawsuits regarding whether its baby powder was cancer-causing and its role in the U.S. opioid epidemic.