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J&J loses appeal in Australian pelvic mesh class action

FILE PHOTO: Vials labelled "COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" and sryinge are seen in front of displayed J&J logo in this illustration

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – An Australian court on Friday dismissed an appeal by Johnson & Johnson against a ruling that its subsidiary Ethicon had misled patients and surgeons about the risks of its pelvic mesh implants.

The full bench of the Federal Court of Australia upheld a November 2019 decision by a federal court judge which found that Ethicon had sold the implants, used to treat urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, without warning women about the serious risks and was negligent, rushing the products to market before proper testing.

J&J appealed the ruling last year after it was ordered to pay three women who led the class action a total of A$2.6 million ($2 million) plus legal costs as compensation. There are more than 1,350 women in the class action.

“The appeal decision paves the way to secure damages for all group members represented by the applicants in the coming months,” Shine Justice, which ran the class action, said in a statement.

J&J said on Friday it was reviewing the decision and considering its options.

“Ethicon believes it acted ethically and responsibly in the research, development and supply of its transvaginal mesh products and appropriately and responsibly communicated the benefits and risks to doctors and patients in Australia,” the company said in an emailed statement.

It has faced similar lawsuits in the United States, Canada and Europe. In October 2019 it agreed to pay nearly $117 million to resolve claims in 41 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

($1 = 1.2985 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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