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Johnson & Johnson to Pay $120M to Settle DePuy Hip Claims By U.S. States

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Johnson & Johnson have agreed to pay $120 million to settle DePuy hip claims brought by several states, which accused the manufacturer of engaging in deceptive marketing by failing to warn the medical community and patients about the risk that metal-on-metal hip replacements had a propensity to fail and cause other complications. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a press release on January 22, announcing the settlement between Johnson & Johnson, it’s DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary, and 46 attorneys general nationwide, which resolve allegations stemming from the marketing practices for the Pinnacle Ultamet and ASR XL. The allegations focused specifically on statements about the purported longevity of the metal-on-metal hip implants.

According to the lawsuits, DePuy advertised that the ASR XL had a survivorship rate of 99.2 percent at three years, and the Pinnacle Ultimate had a 99.9 percent survivorship at five years. However, the National Joint Registry of England and Wales reported that the ASR XL had a seven percent revision rate after three years, and the Pinnacle Ultamet failed 4.28 percent of the time within five years.

“Doctors and their patients need to have accurate and up to date information to ensure that patients are receiving appropriate healthcare,” James said in the press release. “Companies should never be allowed to freely mislead the public, especially when there are health concerns involved. This settlement serves as an important message that deceptive and false medical practices will never be tolerated.”

In addition to the $120 million settlement, DePuy has agreed to change its marketing for hip implants to base longevity statistics on recent registry data, maintain a post marketing surveillance program and a program to handle complaints. The complaints program would include a quality assurance aspect to ensure they are being handled properly, and would also include a quarterly review of complaints that would identify specific problems, determine the cause of those problems, and address them and its marketing of the implants appropriately.

DePuy Pinnacle Hip Lawsuits

The announcement comes a little more than a month after Johnson & Johnson agreed to settle more than 3,000 Depuy Pinnacle lawsuits filed by individuals nationwide whose hip implants failed, often requiring revision surgery.

At the litigation’s peak, the company faced 10,000 product liability claims over Pinnacle failures and complications. The federal cases are centralized before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in the Northern District of Texas, as part of an MDL (multidistrict litigation) established in 2011.

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, a number of “bellwether” trials have gone before juries in recent years, with several resulting in massive damage awards of several hundred million dollars.

In late 2017, a jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay six plaintiffs $247 million in damages. That verdict came after a $500 million jury award in March 2016 and a $1 billion award in December 2016. While the first award was later reduced to about $500 million, and the second award was reduced to $151 million under Texas state damage caps, the staggering verdicts provided a clear signal about how juries may respond if similar cases went to trial in the future..

Johnson & Johnson previously agreed to pay more than $2.4 billion to settle DePuy ASR metal hip lawsuits, which was a recalled hip system based on the design of the DePuy Pinnacle metal hip.

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