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Surgical Mesh Makers Sued by Thousands of Women

Lawsuits filed by thousands of women allegedly harmed by surgical mesh implanted in their pelvic region will start being heard this year by a U.S. federal court in West Virginia.

More than 6,000 federal lawsuits have been filed against vaginal-mesh manufacturers by women who claim the porous, plastic implants have caused them severe pain and suffering, the Associated Press reported. Most had the mesh inserted to treat weak pelvic muscles, which can cause a prolapsed uterus, meaning the uterus slips down into the vaginal canal.

The mesh received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for pelvic organ prolapse in 2002. Similar mesh products had been used for decades in other surgeries, including hernia repair. Based on those earlier implants, the FDA approved the pelvic mesh without requiring the tests normally needed for new devices, according to the AP.

In 2008, the FDA acknowledged problems with the pelvic mesh, and in 2011 it said as many as 10 percent of women were experiencing trouble within 12 months of implantation. In some cases, the mesh shifted, eroded or led to infections, the news agency reported.

Besides the 6,000-plus cases consolidated in West Virginia, state courts have received thousands of similar lawsuits. Last July, a case against vaginal-mesh maker C.R. Bard resulted in a $5.5. million award to a California woman.

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