I know that corporations aren’t people, but: Johnson & Johnson. Girl. What’s going on?
The terrifying large conglomerate that owns seemingly every every drugstore brand from Listerine to Splenda lost a major lawsuit concerning vaginal mesh implants, as The Guardian reported on Thursday.
A California judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay close to $344 million for selling hundreds of thousands of their Prolift vaginal mesh implant between 2008 and 2014 despite health risks linked to the product. The device is supposed to help people with vaginas who suffer from stress-related urinary incontinence, but has been linked to debilitating chronic pain.
As many as four million women have had vaginal mesh implanted to treat urinary incontinence and prolapse, and as many as 200,000 of them have experienced complications that include infections, chronic pain, erosion of mesh into the vagina, scarring, and further incontinence—something that Johnson & Johnson was well aware of, said Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, in a statement to The Guardian.
“Johnson & Johnson knew the danger of its mesh products but put profits ahead of the health of millions of women,” Becerra said.
This isn’t the first time Johnson & Johnson’s faulty vaginal mesh implants have cost it a lot of money: The company settled for $117 million over similar claims in 2019, and it lost another case concerning the devices in Australia last year, as well.
Those are just two of thousands of lawsuits that have been levied against the company, per The Guardian’s estimate—to say nothing of Johnson & Johnson’s significant role in the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States or its loss of a case involving widespread allegations that its baby powders caused ovarian cancer.
As an historical example, the verdicts against Johnson & Johnson provide some indication that maybe the medical and pharmaceutical establishment doesn’t take the bodies and pain of marginalized people of limited means who are likelier to self-treat very seriously at all.
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