After thousands of other complaints around the world, South African patients have, in turn, decided to sue multinational pharmaceutical companies for extensive damage caused by vaginal prostheses.
Among the plaintiffs, Suzette Roodt, 57, had been relieved to be able, thanks to a new job, to afford a synthetic implant to treat her incontinence. But as soon as she left the hospital, she understood that “Something was wrong”. The mesh was faulty and hardened in her body, causing complete bladder obstruction, lesions and chronic pain.
Six years later, this woman, attached to a catheter, joined a dozen other South Africans to sue the Danish group Coloplast and Ethicon, a subsidiary of the American group Johnson & Johnson, for injuries suffered by these implants recommended in case organ descent and incontinence. These implants, in the form of a mesh, are supposed to function as a kind of interior scaffolding. “We have never been told about other options or the risks involved”, dit USme Roodt. “I suffered permanent damage. »
Recourse in several countries
“We have been contacted by many women implanted with devices that we believe to be faulty manufactured by these two companies”, explains Zain Lundell, an expert in this type of business. Companies are also accused of having skimped on performance tests and not having communicated the risks associated with their use.
If successful, this complaint could lay the groundwork for compensation claims for hundreds of other South African women. Johnson & Johnson has already lost similar claims in Australia, the UK and in the USA. In the latter country, prostheses have been classified as “High risk” from 2016 and then banned in 2019. Complications occur in 15 to 25% of women, according to a study by BioMed Research International. In France, a complaint against X was also filed, in 2020, on charges of deception, aggravated deception and unintentional injury.
But in South Africa, none of this information was shared with Chantell Bothma, 41, when she suffered organ descent after giving birth. The implant sheared her flesh so much that she had to undergo a hysterectomy [retrait de l’utérus, en entier ou en partie] four years later to remove it. And “These things are still on the market”, she wonders.
Ethicon, contacted by Agence France-Presse (AFP), recalls that these implants have “Contributed to improving the quality of life of millions of women” but said “Sympathize with those who have experienced complications”. Coloplast did not respond to requests for comment. In June, the American group Johnson & Johnson had already been sentenced definitively, in the United States, for its talc, accused of containing asbestos which would have caused ovarian cancer.