Via America’s Lawyer: Attorney Robert Price joins Mike Papantonio to explain how doctors are being swindled by producers of surgical supplies, specifically defective hernia mesh, unnecessarily endangering the lives of patients. Plus, disturbing new findings point to over a hundred everyday makeup products that have been contaminated with PFAS toxins. Attorney Sara Papantonio joins Mike Papantonio to break down how both regulators and manufacturers are to blame for these dangerous “forever chemicals” making their way into a laundry list of items being sold on store shelves.
*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.
Mike Papantonio: Boston Scientific has reached a $188 million settlement nationwide over it’s phony marketing claims about certain surgical mesh products. These products were found to be totally unnecessary for most procedures and ended up causing extreme pain and bleeding among patients, per, absolute permanent injury. I’ve got Robert Price with me, who was one of the lawyers that made all that happen, has been involved with the mesh case for a long time. Robert, tell us about this litigation, but fill us in about what this is about. What was the case about, why the settlement and what’s ahead of us?
Robert Price: Thanks, thanks for having me on, Mike. So the Boston Scientific settlement was a settlement about the pelvic mesh products, which were products that were implanted in women to treat incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse and things like that.
Mike Papantonio: And you worked that case as well.
Robert Price: We’ve been working that case and many other manufacturers for over 10 years. And essentially this, this was a settlement on behalf of AGs around the country that found that Boston Scientific had misled consumers, misled doctors about the true risks associated with the devices.
Mike Papantonio: Okay. So give us a recap on what you’re doing right now.
Robert Price: So what we’re doing now is we see a lot of these same manufacturers did the pelvic meshes also have done hernia meshes for many years, and it’s the same by-product, it’s the same synthetic plastic polymer used to repair hernias, as well as the pelvic organ issues as we just talked about as well.
Mike Papantonio: Well, you’re talking about the material. The, but the thing that struck me is when you discovered that they were using nonmedical grade material. Talk about, they’re using non, they’re using fishing line, basically, that’s sold in a fishing store. Talk about that.
Robert Price: Absolutely. What was uncovered in trials a few years ago, and what we’re working up, the backstory, even, even deeper. What some companies do, not necessarily all of them, but several companies do this is they use a non-medical grade by-product so literally just bottom shelf, not approved for human usage type stuff. It breaks down, it degrades.
Mike Papantonio: It actually says not app, approved for human use, right?
Robert Price: Right. The stuff that you get from the factory actually comes with a warning that says, do not use this in the human body.
Mike Papantonio: But they used it anyway.
Robert Price: They used it anyway, and what we’re also discovering, Mike, is that they are coming up with different essentially shell companies to run this stuff through. So people don’t know any better. That’s another thing we’re discovering.
Mike Papantonio: Well, what do you mean by that? They’re, they’re, they’re setting up shell companies. They’re moving from the manufacturer of the, of the material, moving through a shell company, and then moving to the people who create the mesh product.
Robert Price: Right. Right.
Mike Papantonio: To try to wash the information.
Robert Price: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Mike Papantonio: Okay. So as this goes far, as this goes forward, we’re talking about a hernia mesh. What kind of injury does it cause? What, what should be people, what should people be aware of?
Robert Price: So, so a lot of these products have these gimmicky coatings and things like that on them. And what we’re seeing is the coating breaks down too soon. It doesn’t work correctly. And these meshes actually, they, they adhere to people’s organs. They’ll blow out too soon. They’ll fail, catastrophic injuries like bowel punctures, internal bleeding, you said, organ perforations.
Mike Papantonio: Does the material, does the material migrate through their system after it blows out?
Robert Price: It can, it absolutely can. It can blow out. It can move over and then you can have some of this chemical leaching that goes on with this really low grade stuff, high inflammatory responses that cause gut problems and things like that as well.
Mike Papantonio: Well, Robert, one of the things that struck me is this is a procedure that’s not even necessary because a doctor that’s trained without mesh can create, he can fix a hernia without any of this garbage, right?
Robert Price: A lot of times.
Mike Papantonio: So industry came in and said, look, you need this because you’re a doctor who’s not a specialist in fixing hernias, but now you can increase your practice if you’ll use our material. Isn’t that kind of the scenario here?
Robert Price: That’s right. We call it, we call them the gimmick meshes, which is they go to a doctor and say, yeah, you know, we know this hernia is real small and it would take you 20, 30, 40 minutes to do this, but it’ll take you five minutes with this easy patch. They think that, you know, the doctors, a lot of times they think it’s FDA approved. They think it’s been studied when it really hasn’t. And a lot of times it’s unnecessary. Doctors don’t need to do it, but it happens because they sold them a bill of goods and it’s turned out the truth is, is unveiled many years later.
Mike Papantonio: Actually, when you look at the pelvic mesh cases, the juries jumped all over these, these companies and these are the same companies, aren’t they?
Robert Price: Right. Right.
Mike Papantonio: Robert, thank you for joining me. Okay.
Robert Price: Thanks, Mike.
Mike Papantonio: We’ve discussed on this show, how PFAS toxins have made their way into our drinking water. And now we’re seeing reports that these forever toxins are contaminating makeup products that are still being sold on store shelves. I have Sara Papantonio with me to talk about this product, this product and this story. You’ve worked on this PFAS project for awhile. You understand this case very well. I, when I saw this, that women are putting this on their face every day, that’s absorbed through the skin and regulatory is just like kicking the can down the road. What’s your take on this story?
Sara Papantonio: Right and in order to understand this story, you got to understand just how potent of a toxin this is. PFAS is what we call the forever chemical. That’s what we’ve labeled it in, in pop culture as. And what that means is that it’s bio-persistent, it stays in the blood. It’s bio-accumulative, it accumulates the more you get and it’s bio-active. So it reacts with the organs. And so that’s what these people are putting onto their eyes, their face, their makeup, and the skin is the largest organ in the body. It’s absorbing it. And finally, we’ve got the courage and the commitment to do something about it. But the fact of the matter is, what this boils down to, is we have known PFAS is dangerous for decades and the FDA and regulators and government are just finally standing up and saying, okay, we’ll, we’ll take it out of your cosmetics.
Mike Papantonio: Sara, I look at a case like this, the hesitation always seems to be, they have political influence. Okay. There’s people at the top that are on boards. They’re on government regulatory agencies. They stop it cold. You’re familiar with the case tried up in the Ohio river valley. They made a movie out of it, The Devil We Know. That was only the edge of the story. And still we have regulatory dragging their feet on this product. How are these products used? Give me some examples of these cosmetics.
Sara Papantonio: The, the, the fact of the matter is these are in every, PFAS is an everyday products. It’s used to create water resistance. So it’s in makeup, it’s in waterproof eye liner, eye shadow and all, all the, it’s everywhere. And so, like you said, the regulatory industry, what they’re doing now is they’re, they’re lifting their hands and saying, hey, look, we’re going to create legislation that takes this out of cosmetic products. But instead of being proactive, we’re constantly being reactive. The fact of the matter is if we would have known about this, if we would have taken it out of our products decades ago, you would have protected an entire generation from this.
Mike Papantonio: You’ve seen the documents, you saw how bad the documents were in the 1960s, 1970s, monkeys were dying, all the monkeys were dying in the test. Beagles were dying, all the beagles were dying. Rats were dying. And as you know, I just took the deposition of the general counsel for 3M, who is making this product. And so at what point you say this wasn’t a mistake? That there was some intent involved. Just talk about that just, just a little bit.
Sara Papantonio: It, it absolutely wasn’t a mistake. Like you said, we, 3M the company that manufacturers 90% of this chemical has known for decades. Since the, at least the eighties, that this is a bio-persistent drug that is not going to leave the body anytime soon. And that it’s going to react with the body.
Mike Papantonio: Okay. You’ve been asked, our firm’s been asked to handle this case in Europe, because we thought the PFAS was only a US problem. But the truth is it’s in everybody’s blood all over the planet right now. The government under, the government under Trump was trying to say, oh, well, you know, there’s nothing we can do about it. So sorry. And at the same time failing to say, oh, by the way, this causes cancer, birth defects, liver disease, hormone disruption, and it’s in the environment for a million years. Give me your call on what this administration will do.
Sara Papantonio: Well, I hope they do the right thing and they find ways to take it out. I mean, like you said, it’s not going away anytime soon. But if we stop it in its tracks right now, we can protect generations to come. We can at least find solutions to get this out of the environment, to some degree.
Mike Papantonio: So as we look at it, it’s something that regulatory oversight, what we’re finding as we look at these documents, regulators were actually told, all these, all these monkeys died. All of these beagles died when we did the experiment. We found out that the company, they held that back from the, from the regulators. But then at some point the regulators got it and still didn’t do anything. So right now it’s in our drinking water. Matter of fact, right here in this town of Pensacola, it’s in our drinking water. It’s in the drinking water of most cities, urban cities throughout the United States. There’s a way to solve that, isn’t there?
Sara Papantonio: Yeah. I mean, there’s filters. There’s, there’s an ability to take it out, but it just lands on the regulators and it lands on companies like 3M to do their job and fix this problem that they’ve caused.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Okay. So you’ve heard the term, externalizing risk, right? So a company comes to town. They, they make the taxpayer take all the risks. They make the consumer takes all the risk and 3M keeps all of the money. And that is the new way that businesses conduct themselves in the US, let the taxpayers, let the consumers take all the risk. Isn’t that kind of what we’re seeing with this case?
Sara Papantonio: Yeah. And, and I hope it changes relatively soon because that, it’s on 3M. This, they created this issue, they have to fix it.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. And they’ve got the money to do it. They just need to get busy. Sara, thank you for joining me. Okay. That’s all for tonight. Find us on Twitter and Facebook @facebook.com/rtamericaslawyer. You can watch all RT programs on Direct TV channel 321. Also stream them live on YouTube and be sure to check out RT’s new portable app, where you can watch all your favorite shows. I’m Mike Papantonio and this is America’s Lawyer where every week we tell you the stories that corporate media is ordered not to tell because their advertisers won’t let them and because their political involvement doesn’t allow for it. Have a great night.