Johnson & Johnson Faces More Than 4,000 Metal Hip Replacement Lawsuits
Johnson & Johnson now faces about 3,500 DePuy ASR hip lawsuits and another 500 lawsuits over its DePuy Pinnacle hip system, which are both metal-on-metal hip replacements that have been associated with a high number of catastrophic failures, often requiring revision surgery.
The pharmaceutical and medical products giant issued its third-quarter earnings report earlier this month, updating investors on the status of the Johnson & Johnson hip replacement litigation.
The ASR and Pinnacle artificial hip systems are manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. They both involve a metal-on-metal design, which could cause microscopic shavings of cobalt and chromium to be shed into the body as the components rub against each other.
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In August 2010, a DePuy ASR recall was issued after the system was linked to a higher-than-expected failure rate. However, by the time the DePuy hip implant was removed from the market, about 93,000 of the devices had already been sold worldwide, including about 37,000 that were used in the United States.
At the time of the recall, Johnson & Johnson indicated that the DePuy ASR failure rate was about 12%. However, some expects have suggested that the actual percentage of people who are likely to experience problems with their implant, including loosening, metal poisoning and possible revision surgery, is going to be substantially higher as more time passes.
Since the recall, a growing flood of lawsuits over the DePuy ASR hip have been filed against Johnson & Johnson in state and federal courts throughout the United States. The federal DePuy ASR litigation has been consolidated for pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.
Although a DePuy Pinnacle hip recall has not been issued by Johnson & Johnson, a growing number of complaints have also been filed over that implant in recent months involving similar allegations. In May 2011, a separate MDL was formed for Pinnacle lawsuits, which are centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
Approval for the DePuy ASR hip system was obtained based on claims by the manufacturer that it was a substantially equivalent design to the older DePuy Pinnacle hip system.
The 4,000 complaints over the ASR and Pinnacle metal hip replacements involve similar allegations that Johnson & Johnson and DePuy designed and sold defective hip replacement products without adequately warning consumers about the risk of catastrophic failure and metal poisoning caused by cobalt and chromium shavings that are shed into the body as the metal parts rub against each other.
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