Ethicon is a subsidiary of health care giant Johnson & Johnson. It operates globally and sells its products worldwide. The manufacturer rakes in billions of dollars in revenues for its parent company each year. It is well-known for its innovative surgical tools, sutures and mesh products. Some of its mesh products have caused patient injuries resulting in lawsuits. Some of these lawsuits have ended in million-dollar verdicts against the company. Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson have yet to settle the bulk of these lawsuits.
Ethicon Inc. is part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies. It manufactures medical devices and surgical instruments.
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. Over 1,000 lawsuits are still pending.
Ethicon has its headquarters in Bridgewater, New Jersey and Cincinnati, Ohio.
The manufacturer sells its products in 52 countries. It has a large majority – 80 percent – of market shares in surgical sutures in the U.S.
Johnson & Johnson’s surgery franchise made $9.6 billion in sales in 2017, according to Johnson and Johnson’s 2017 annual report. The figure is a 2.8 percent increase over 2016.
This is partly because the company acquired Megadyne Medical Products and sutures sales. Both are product areas of Ethicon.
Ethicon started in 1915 in Edinburgh, Scotland. It began as a factory that manufactured, packaged and sterilized catgut, silk and nylon sutures. Doctors used these surgical sutures for wound closures.
George F. Merson, a trained pharmacist, founded the facility. Johnson & Johnson bought G.F. Merson Limited in 1947.
Under Johnson & Johnson’s control, G.F. Merson Limited became Ethicon Suture Laboratories. 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.
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 1998, the company sold its wound management business to One Equity Partners. The former division of Ethicon became Systagenix Wound Management Limited.
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.
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.
Patients injured by Physiomesh Flexible Composite Hernia Mesh are suing Ethicon.
Hernia mesh lawsuits claim Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson manufactured and sold a defective product. Some lawsuits have ended in verdicts or settlements. Nearly 1,280 cases are still pending in a Georgia federal court.
Class actions and individual personal injury lawsuits are also pending in the U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium, Israel, Australia and Canada.
Ethicon also faces transvaginal mesh lawsuits over its Prolift transvaginal mesh device. Lawsuits against Ethicon also claim Gynecare TVT-Obturator bladder sling complications.
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.
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