June 14, 2013 — The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (MDL) has decided to centralize all vaginal mesh lawsuit involving Cook Medical products in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. The Cook MDL will be overseen by Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, who is also currently presiding over more than 13,000 lawsuits and five other MDLs against other manufacturers.
The order will transfer 13 lawsuits pending in eight district courts into the MDL against Cook Medical. All of the lawsuits involve common allegations that defects in Cook’s surgical mesh products cause women to suffer injuries. In February, plaintiffs originally requested an MDL to centralize 42 lawsuits, but most of these were dismissed or transferred to other MDLs.
Cook manufactures the Surgisis Biodesign, Stratasis Urethral Slings, and other products as a treatment for Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) and Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP). These medical conditions occur when weakened muscles in the pelvic floor allow abdominal organs to press down on the bladder and vagina. In the last decade, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved dozens of implants designed to reinforce weakened muscles to treat SUI or POP. Unfortunately, they have also received thousands of adverse event reports.
Lawyers for Cook Medical insist that the Surgisis and Stratasis are different from other pelvic meshes because they are biological (made from pig intestine) instead of synthetic. However, researchers have found that some complications may be more likely with biological meshes because they are not as strong as synthetic meshes.
Vaginal mesh implants have been associated with a variety of complications. According to several warnings from the FDA, the implants can erode into a woman’s body, protrude into the vagina, become infected, cause recurrent prolapse or urinary problems, and the implants may be impossible to remove. Despite thousands of lawsuits, most of the products have not been recalled.
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