A local woman who was part of a victorious class action suit against global pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson over their pelvic mesh devices has described it as "validation".
On November 20 more than 1,350 women who suffered devastating side effects from pelvic mesh implants won a landmark legal class action against three Johnson & Johnson companies that "oversold" pelvic mesh devices for several decades.
The companies "saw the commercial opportunities presented by the new devices and were keen to exploit them before their competitors beat them to it", Federal Court Justice Anna Katzmann found in a scathing 1500-page decision that could lead to one of the largest health class action compensation payouts in Australian history.
Justice Katzmann described the evidence in the case as "overwhelming" and found the creator of the devices "negligent".
She said the devices, were not tested properly, and that the companies responsible knew they did not have sufficient data to show they were safe.
The devices were created by medical company Ethicon and its subsidiaries, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson.
Port Macquarie woman Louise* said she had "suffered in silence in the beginning" after being told by her surgeon she was one of the "unlucky ones to be experiencing the ghastly complications".
"It wasn't until a sympathetic colleague had shown me a flyer she had come across in a leading women's magazine ( discussing complications from the type of procedure) that the penny dropped."
Louise joined the class action in 2015, almost two years after having the surgery.
Louise said she had a very "supportive GP" who helped her seek out numerous other specialists for help.
"I finally had the product removed by a surgeon interstate last year," she said.
"It was a difficult surgery, but my health has improved tremendously.
"I will always have an injury but I have my life back!"
Louise said there needs to be a retrospective audit to see exactly how many women have been injured and suffering complications.
Another Port Macquarie woman Judy who was not involved in the class action but has suffered ongoing, serious health problems from a Johnson & Johnson pelvic mesh device warned women to "do their research" on mesh products.
"I feel hurt, disappointed, discarded and disrespected," she said.
"Mesh survivors are left in agony with chronic pain and disabilities for the rest of our lives.
"Women and men need to be informed not to give absolute trust to their doctors."
In 2018 Health Minister Greg Hunt issued a national apology to women who had suffered debilitating effects from mesh implants used to treat prolapse or incontinence.
A senate inquiry had found the devices "should only be used as a last resort" and found some women were not properly informed about potentially serious side effects.
Pelvic mesh devices are used to treat two main conditions affecting women. One is urinary incontinence and the other pelvic organ prolapse.
If you would like more information about pelvic mesh injuries contact the Mesh Injured Hotline: 1800 637 433 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Some names have been changed in this article
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