Home Ethicon


Ethicon is a subsidiary of health care giant Johnson & Johnson. It operates globally and sells its products worldwide. Its products include surgical tools, sutures and mesh products. Some of its hernia and pelvic mesh products have led to injury lawsuits and million-dollar settlements and verdicts against the company.

Last Modified: September 5, 2023
Fact Checked
Medically Reviewed

Board-certified physicians medically review Drugwatch.com content to ensure its accuracy and quality.

Drugwatch.com partners with Physicians’ Review Network Inc. to enlist specialists. PRN is a nationally recognized leader in providing independent medical reviews.

Reviewer specialties include internal medicine, gastroenterology, oncology, orthopedic surgery and psychiatry.

Why Trust DrugWatch?

Drugwatch.com has been empowering patients for more than a decade

Drugwatch.com has provided reliable, trusted information about medications, medical devices and general health since 2008. We’ve also connected thousands of people injured by drugs and medical devices with top-ranked national law firms to take action against negligent corporations.

Our team includes experienced medical writers, award-winning journalists, researchers and certified medical and legal experts. Drugwatch.com is HONCode (Health On the Net Foundation) certified. This means the high-quality information we provide comes from credible sources, such as peer-reviewed medical journals and expert interviews.

The information on Drugwatch.com has been medically and legally reviewed by more than 30 expert contributors, including doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, patient advocates and other health care professionals. Our writers are members of professional associations, including American Medical Writers Association, American Bar Association, The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates and International Society for Medical Publication Professionals.

About Drugwatch.com

  • Assisting patients and their families since 2008.
  • Helped more than 12,000 people find legal help.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed medical and legal information site.
Learn More About Us


"Drugwatch opened my eyes to the realities of big pharmacy. Having a family member with major depression and anxiety, I was looking for information on her medications. I found information that was very helpful, that her psychiatrist never told her."
Marianne Zahren Patient’s Family Member
  • Google Business Rating
  • BBB A+ Rating Logo

Ethicon Inc. is part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies. It manufactures medical devices and surgical instruments.

The company reported $4.9 billion in revenue in 2021.

Ethicon is well-known for its sutures and other wound closure products. It also makes hernia mesh and transvaginal mesh.

Some of Ethicon’s popular mesh products have caused patient injuries. This has led to lawsuits, financial setbacks and a voluntary recall.

About Ethicon

Ethicon has its headquarters in Bridgewater, New Jersey and Cincinnati, Ohio.

The manufacturer sells its products in 52 countries. It has a large majority of market shares in surgical sutures in the U.S.

Johnson & Johnson’s surgery franchise made $8.2 billion in sales in 2020, according to Johnson and Johnson’s 2020 annual report. The figure is down from $9.5 billion in 2019.

Ethicon History

Ethicon started in 1915 in Edinburgh, Scotland. It began as a factory that manufactured, packaged and sterilized catgut, silk and nylon sutures. The factory was founded by Scottish pharmacist George F. Merson.

Merson developed eyeless needled sutures with a single strand of material pre-attached through the butt of the needle. This invention greatly reduced tissue damage caused by pulling double strands through the skin.

Johnson & Johnson bought G.F. Merson Limited in 1947.

Ethicon Suture

Under Johnson & Johnson’s control, G.F. Merson Limited became Ethicon Suture Laboratories in 1949. And in 1953, it became Ethicon Inc.

Merson stayed involved in the company until his death in 1958.

For years before his death, Merson invited the company’s directors to a yearly dinner in January. They would talk about Ethicon’s accomplishments and future plans. This tradition continued after his death.

Ethicon Inc.

In the 1990s, Ethicon Inc. formed four different companies with unique product specialties under the Ethicon name. The companies were to help Ethicon explore new and more advanced technologies.

In 2008, the company sold its wound management business to One Equity Partners. The former division of Ethicon became Systagenix Wound Management Limited.

Ethicon’s notable acquisitions include:
  • 2009
    Mentor – breast implant maker
  • 2010
    Acclarent – ear, nose, throat technology company
  • 2016
    NeuWave Medical – maker of probes that use microwave energy to remove cancerous tumors
  • 2017
    Megadyne – Innovative portfolio of electrosurgical tools
  • 2019
    TachoSil — Fibrin patch business from Takeda Pharmaceutical
Show More

Ethicon Products

Ethicon manufactures a range of surgical products. The company’s motto is “shaping the future of surgery,” according to the Ethicon website.

Ethicon started with the creation of the first sutures. It expanded into biosurgical tools, and infection control and wound closure products. It also makes hernia mesh, and pelvic meshes and slings.

Popular Ethicon Brands
Fibrin sealants
Absorbable hemostats to manage surgical bleeding
Absorbable gelatin sponge or powder intended for hemostatic use by applying to a bleeding surface
Surgical shears
Tissue sealers
Electrosurgery probes and other surgical tools including trocars
Surgical tools (i.e. tissue dissector, electrosurgical generator, electrosurgical smoke evacuators)
Skin staplers and surgical tools (i.e. linear cutters)
Tissue control devices
Coated sutures
Topical skin adhesives
Mesh device
Surgical mesh products
Uterine and pelvic meshes and slings
Protective disk – infection control dressing
Endopouch Retriever
Specimen retrieval bag

Ethicon Recalls

Physiomesh Hernia Mesh Box
In May 2016, Ethicon withdrew Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh from the global market following reports of high failure rates.

Ethicon pulled its popular Physiomesh Flexible Composite Hernia Mesh from the market worldwide in 2016. Unpublished data from two large studies determined possible safety risks to patients.

Ethicon issued hernia mesh recalls in Europe and Australia. It issued a market withdrawal in the U.S.

The studies showed that Physiomesh had higher rates of revision surgeries compared to other hernia meshes used for hernia repairs. There was also a greater possibility of the hernia returning.

The company blamed the hernia mesh complications on possible “product characteristics” as well as “operative and patient factors,” according to one publication.

Ethicon has not issued a transvaginal mesh recall. But, in 2012, the company stopped selling four of its Gynecare mesh products.

Ethicon Lawsuits

Ethicon is involved in lawsuits over several of its products. These include transvaginal mesh, surgical staplers and hernia mesh.

Transvaginal Mesh

At one time, Ethicon faced more than 40,000 transvaginal mesh lawsuits over its Prolift transvaginal mesh device and Gynecare TVT-Obturator bladder sling complications. Several lawsuits ended in jury verdicts or settlements.

As of March 15, 2021, the company faces three federal lawsuits in West Virginia. It “settled or otherwise resolved” the majority of these claims for undisclosed amounts, according to J&J’s 2020 Annual Report.

The MDL court in West Virginia has remanded some cases back to its local state jurisdictions. Cases continue to be filed, but they remain outside the MDL. Ethicon still faces 14,900 pelvic mesh lawsuits, according to the 2020 annual report.

Ethicon agreed to pay $117 million to 41 states and the District of Columbia to settle claims for deceptive marketing of its pelvic mesh products in October 2019.

Surgical Staplers

Ethicon recalled nearly 92,500 of its Endo-Surgery surgical staplers in 2019 after staplers misfired in two patients, injuring them.

Patients who were injured by these malfunctioning devices are filing surgical stapler lawsuits against the company.

Hernia Mesh

Ethicon faces thousands of hernia mesh lawsuits related to its Physiomesh Flexible Composite, Proceed and Prolene hernia meshes. Lawsuits claim Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson manufactured and sold a defective product.

Some lawsuits have ended in verdicts or settlements.

As of March 15, 2021, Ethicon faced 3,365 Physiomesh lawsuits in multidistrict litigation in Georgia. It also faces cases in multicounty litigation in New Jersey.

Proceed and Prolene hernia mesh cases are pending in separate multicounty litigations in New Jersey.

The first Physiomesh trial for Jim B. and Diane Crumbley is set to take place on March 18, 2021. The second bellwether will go to trial on June 7, 2021. The third is tentatively scheduled for September 13, 2021.

See if You Qualify for a Lawsuit Our Partners

Our Trusted Legal Partners

Drugwatch partners with trusted law firms to help you take legal action. After submitting the form, one of Drugwatch's partners will contact you for a free case review.

simmons hanly conroy law firm logo weitz and luxenberg logo sokolove law firm logo levin papantonio rafferty law firm logo nigh goldenberg raso and vaughn law firm logo morgan & morgan logo the ferraro law firm logo meirowitz & wasserberg law firm logo

Ethicon Verdicts and Settlements

Lawsuits against Ethicon have resulted in millions of dollars in payouts to injured patients. This includes multiple verdicts and settlements involving pelvic meshes.

Despite repeated losses, the company has not yet agreed to a large-scale settlement.

Recent Ethicon Verdicts and Settlements
  • December 2015
    A Philadelphia jury awarded $12.5 million to a woman who said Ethicon’s Prolift mesh implant caused her to have pain during sex and required surgeries to correct.
  • January 2016
    Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $120 million to settle thousands of mesh lawsuits. Some of these lawsuits involved mesh products manufactured by Ethicon.
  • February 2016
    A jury awarded $4.4 million to a Florida resident injured by Mentor’s ObTape sling for urinary incontinence. Ethicon acquired Mentor in 2009.
  • February 2016
    A New Jersey jury awarded $13.5 million to a patient who received Ethicon’s transvaginal tape (TVT) for stress urinary incontinence (SUI).
  • April 2017
    A Philadelphia jury awarded $20 million to a patient who received Ethicon’s TVT-Secur and suffered transvaginal mesh complications.
  • September 2017
    A Philadelphia jury awarded $57.1 million to a patient injured by two of Ethicon’s pelvic mesh implants.
  • December 2017
    A New Jersey jury awarded $15 million to a patient who needed revision surgery after receiving a Prolift mesh implant. Ethicon lost its attempt at an appeal to overturn the verdict.
  • March 2018
    An Indiana jury awarded $35 million to a patient injured by Ethicon’s Prolift mesh implant.
  • April 2019
    A Philadelphia jury awarded $120 million to a woman who received Ethicon’s TVT-O mesh implant.
  • May 2019
    A Pennsylvania jury awarded $80 million to a woman who had a Prolift mesh implant.
Show More
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.