According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Johnson & Johnson could be liable for over $1 billion related to the failure of artificial hips manufactured by their subsidiary, DePuy Orthopedics. The DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip implant was first offered in the United States 2005, but was recalled in August 2010 after reports of higher-than-expected failure rates and possible metallic poisoning. Since then, lawsuits have been piling up, with many alleging that DePuy knew about the device’s high failure rate up to two years prior to the recall. Over one thousand lawsuits have already been filed, with the possibility of some being grouped together as a class action.
Recent information published by the British Orthopaedic Association indicates that the six-year failure rate may be as high as 49%.
Early estimates presumed that around 12% to 13% of these hips would fail within five years, but the reality may be much higher. Recent information published by the British Orthopaedic Association indicates that the six-year failure rate may be as high as 49%. Furthermore, high levels of cobalt and chromium have been found in the blood of some patients who had the hip replacement, leading to possible soft tissue damage, sight issues, inflammation, diseased heart muscle, bone loss, infections, genetic damage, memory loss, hypertension, asceptic fibrosis, urinary tract infections, necrosis and other significant problems.
In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required twenty-one artificial hip manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson, to conduct post-market studies of hip implants, citing medical reports of "a small number of patients in which high levels of metal ions in the bloodstream may have caused other types of symptoms or illnesses elsewhere in the body, including effects on the heart, nervous system, and thyroid gland." According to the FDA, possible signs that the device is not working properly are pain in the groin, hip or leg; swelling at or near the hip joint; or a limp or change in walking ability.
Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest healthcare company, estimates that around 37,000 patients in the U.S. and about 93,000 world-wide received the recalled device. DePuy has said that the company would cover the cost of all medical care associated with the device, including replacement surgery. J&J also stated that it bolstered its product liability reserves by $570 million in 2010, as well as set aside an additional $280 million for the medical costs of patients who need additional hip replacement.
The lawsuits against DePuy and Johnson & Johnson are for product liability, negligence and failure-to-warn claims, seeking medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you or a loved one has experienced complications possibly caused by the DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip replacement, contact an experienced DePuy hip implant attorney to see if you are eligible to pursue legal recourse.