Ethicon Physiomesh Complications: “I Didn’t Think Anything Could Hurt That Much”

Published on June 12, 2017 by Sandy Liebhard

A man from Nova Scotia is blaming Ethicon, Inc. and its Physiomesh hernia patch for the pain and disability he has suffered since March. As he awaits hernia revision surgery, Eric Hagen, 86, told CCTV that he is working to warn other Canadians about the risks potentially associated with this product.

“I can’t describe it today in words how much it hurt. I didn’t think anything could hurt that much,” he said.

Mr. Hagen received Ethicon’s Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh device in 2012, during laparoscopic hernia repair. He did well until March, when he experienced severe and sudden pain while chatting with a neighbor in his driveway.

“All at once it just hit me, and I was to my knees,” he said.

Mr. Hagan had been living an independent and active life until he began experiencing Physiomesh complications.

“I’m worried I’m not going to be able to look after myself. Right now, I can’t look after myself,” he said.

Physiomesh Recall in Canada

Introduced in 2010, Physiomesh is made from non-absorbable polypropylene (plastic) mesh that is covered with an absorbable film coating. That coating is intended to help the patch incorporate into the body and reduce inflammation. However, Ethicon withdrew Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh from the market in May 2016, after unpublished data from two European hernia registries suggested that the patch was associated with higher average recurrence and revision rates compared to other meshes used in laparoscopic ventral hernia repair.  Ethicon said it was unable to determine the cause of the problems, and has indicated that will not be returning the affected Physiomesh products to the market.

Health Canada issued a Physiomesh recall shortly after the market withdrawal was announced.

Physiomesh Lawsuits Mount in U.S.

Dozens of Physiomesh lawsuits have been filed in U.S. courts on behalf of individuals who claim to have suffered adhesions, perforations, infections, mesh erosion and other debilitating injuries following their hernia surgery. Plaintiffs claim the hernia patch is defectively designed, and assert that its multi-layer configuration actually prevents incorporation of the mesh and increases the likelihood of serious complications.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized all federally-filed Physiomesh lawsuits in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. This will allow the federal docket to undergo coordinated pretrial proceedings, including discovery and motions practice. Initially, just 18 cases were transferred to the new multidistrict litigation. However, any other lawsuits currently pending in federal courts are eligible for transfer, as are any that might be filed in the future.

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