As we have previously reported, the vaginal mesh implant litigation continues to move forward across the country. A mesh implant is a synthetic material implanted and tied to ligaments or bone to lift and support internal organs. The implants were introduced over a decade ago and serve as an alternative to hysterectomy. Thousands of women have since complained of injuries including severe pain, infections and bleeding that often require follow-up surgeries.

The jury, presiding over the vaginal mesh lawsuit in West Virginia, awarded the plaintiff $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages. The plaintiff suffered bladder spasms, bleeding and pelvic and rectal pain from the Bard Avaulta device. Plaintiff underwent several revision surgeries to remove the device. This is C.R. Bard’s second recent defeat and follows a July 2012 jury award of $3.6 million in a California state court.

If you or a loved one has experienced any injury from the use of a vaginal mesh implant, please contact Stark & Stark and speak to one of the Mass Tort attorneys, free of charge, who can help assess any claims that you might have against a manufacturer of the vaginal mesh device.

In 1735, Benjamin Franklin famously declared “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Franklin delivered that message to persuade a group of stubborn Philadelphians to create a full-time fire department that could serve the city and effectively manage a potentially devastating fire.  The idea that a modest preventative step could result in the realization of a meaningful future benefit is comforting and something every individual wishes to achieve.  It is especially true in the context of an individual’s personal health.  Everyone wants to live a long, pain free life, uncomplicated by the scourge of old age.  Sadly, this is not reality.

To better realize that goal of good health you might wish to consider consulting a physician or health care provider for a “medication review.” A medication review is a proactive measure that allows a person to evaluate their prescription drug regimen in a comprehensive fashion.  The reviewer can consider how an individual medication or multiple medications are affecting your health.   This review considers both the individual and more global effects of the medications.

It is an unavoidable truth that prescription medication is necessary and often desirable to help treat or control a given health issue.  However, equally true is the fact that complications may arise—sometimes resulting in devastating or even fatal consequences.  Many times the unsuspecting individual does not know that a medication is causing their problem.   Every person owes it to themselves to become educated on the drugs entering their body.  This is one area where a small investment in time can yield substantial benefit.

If you uncover any unsettling or troubling information during the medication review, you have served yourself well in two respects. First, and most importantly, you have a chance of fixing the problem and removing the medication from your prescription regimen.  Second, you can decide whether you wish to pursue legal recourse against the manufacturer of the harmful medication. Litigation may be a viable alternative or a practical necessity but it is best to be proactive and informed.

Pharmaceutical companies frequently pay generic drug competitors money to delay releasing their cheaper versions of brand-name drugs.  The result is a large financial reward for the pharmaceutical companies, both name brand and generic manufacturers, and a substantial cost to American consumers and insurance companies. A recent article explains that, within America, 80% of all prescriptions for medicines and vaccines are made by generic manufacturers.  However, a far smaller percentage of the $325 billion annual prescription drug total is paid to generic manufacturers.

The Federal Trade Commission is officially leading the charge against the so called “pay-for-delay” practices. The Obama Administration is officially denouncing these pay-for-delay deals that add an estimated $3.5 billion to consumer’s annual drug bills. As U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli recently noted, “once a generic drug gets on the market and competes with a brand-name drug, the price drops 85 percent.”  The American Medical Association also condemns the practice arguing that the pay-for-delay arrangements “undermine the balance between spurring innovation through patents and fostering competition through generics.” The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral argument next week in a case involving the $1.2 billion annual sales male hormone treatment AndroGel produced by AbbVie Inc. The case is being closely monitored by everyone involved in the pharmaceutical industry.

It is believed that about 20 percent of Americans are suffering from a “poor credit health history” according to a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  A new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report warns Americans that their personal medical files may not be entirely accurate.  It is believed that a person’s “health credit,” analogous to his individual credit scores, will not be fully accurate until the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services establishes a comprehensive database for medical professionals to access.

The real world implications of inaccurate medical histories can be devastating. For instance, insurance companies may refuse to cover certain procedures due to factually inaccurate assumptions concerning an individual’s health. Inaccurate medical records may also negatively impact a patient in the event that he must bring a lawsuit relevant to a medical condition. It is crucial that medical professionals—including doctors, facilities and pharmacies—maintain the integrity of a patient’s medical history. In certain cases, an incorrect diagnosis on a patient’s medical chart can cause an insurance company to reject a legitimate procedure. Even more disconcerting is that the erroneous diagnosis may not be removable from the patient’s medical file.

As many primary care doctors turn to electronic retention of medical records it is important that patients be aware of their medical history reports. For now, patients are well advised to be conscientious about the accuracy of their medical histories and be proactive and vocal about any inconsistencies they may uncover.

On July 26, 2012, Judge Martinotti hosted a joint MDL/State Case Management Conference in Bergen County, New Jersey, along with the Honorable David A. Katz, U.S.D.J., who is presiding over the federal cases in the MDL in Ohio. As previously discussed, the centralization of the state and federal cases will streamline the DePuy lawsuits, allowing the parties to avoid duplicative discovery and inconsistent rulings from different judges.

At the conference, Judge Martinotti noted that over 44 million documents have been produced in discovery. Additionally, there have been approximately 3,300 DePuy lawsuits filed nationwide, with 900 law firms representing the plaintiffs. This number may increase as more people learn of the ongoing litigation. Judge Martinotti advised that the first trials are currently scheduled to begin in Maryland, Illinois, and California within the year. Trial in the MDL is set for May 6, 2013 and July 8, 2013. Furthermore, Judge Martinotti has set the first New Jersey trials for September 13, 2013, and October 21, 2013. The next Case Management Conference has been scheduled for the middle of September 2012.

If you have had a hip replacement, which used the DePuy ASR or Pinnacle devices, you can contact Stark & Stark and speak to one of the Mass Tort attorneys, free of charge, who can help assess any claims that you might have against the DePuy manufacturers.