This week, J&J agreed to pay out $4 million to settle Oregon’s claims that subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics made false claims when advertising and selling its now recalled ASR metal-on-metal implants by failing to reveal the devices’ high rates of failure.
This new agreement – described by the state of Oregon as the first of its kind – includes a $4 million payment to the state and prohibits DePuy from making any false or misleading claims when advertising or promoting its hip implants in the future. Although DePuy has yet to comment on the settlement, state attorney general Ellen Rosenblum hailed the Multnomah County Circuit Court decision in approving the deal:
DePuy presented its ASR hip implants to medical professionals as effective and hid, or failed to reveal, the already evident high failure rate.
“Oregonians in need of a hip replacement deserve to know that the artificial hip they are contemplating in fact has the qualities, and benefits, that a company advertises. Doctors also need to know that the products they suggest to their patients meet certain standards; and no company should be permitted to exploit that basic tenet. I am proud that Oregon has once again taken the lead on deceptive marketing practices that hurt patients.”
The state accused DePuy of making unsubstantiated and false claims that contradicted actual evidence, in violation of the Unfair Trade Practices Act. The key allegation was simple: DePuy presented its ASR hip implants to medical professionals as effective and hid, or failed to reveal, the already evident high failure rate.
Lawsuits from patients injured by the devices continue against J&J in state and federal courts across the country – and last year the company agreed to a $2.5 billion deal to settle thousands of cases brought by hip implant patients who required corrective surgery to remove the allegedly faulty implants. The agreement was finalized in May this year and sees some 8,000 patients awarded at least $250,000 each. Patients who suffered particularly excessive injuries may be able to receive additional compensation under the deal.
This latest settlement is good news for consumers and for hip implant patients in Oregon and beyond. The more companies like J&J are hit where it hurts – their wallets – the more likely they are in the future to practice open, honest and up-front marketing. Patients rely on their physicians and doctors to give them the best advice – and if our doctors are being misled about the effectiveness of devices, companies must be held to account and forced to change their ways. This settlement may be a small step, but it’s one in the right direction.