Product News and Recalls

Insurers want reimbursement for medical device costs

Insurance companies, which often end up on the hook for expenses when a medical device fails, are pursuing legal action to recoup more of the health services costs from manufacturers.

According to a Reuters report, the biggest recalls can lead to billions of dollars in expenses, and medical device makers are already worried about weaker global demand for many of their products and the impact of a new U.S. tax on their profits. Now they’re also concerned about the further impact of the insurance companies’ claims.

Reuters says the insurers are taking this step because of the current high volume of recalls. In recent years, more than a hundred medical devices were recalled out of concern they could cause serious injury or death.

Among the recent recalls are four different types of transvaginal mesh implants that Johnson & Johnson pulled from the market this year. The implants are used to treat urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, following widespread complaints that they caused severe pain and injuries for recipients.

Johnson & Johnson also recalled a line of all-metal hip implants manufactured by its DePuy Orthopaedics division in 2010. Nearly half of the patients who received them had to get them replaced within six years, and the devices also generated widespread reports of toxic metal debris breaking off and getting into patients’ bodies.

According to Reuters, helping insurance companies recoup payments from the party that was deemed at fault for claims is a legal service known as subrogation. The report quotes Mark Fischer, chairman of the Rawlings Group unit that handles subrogation, as saying there has been a “drastic increase” in the number of cases being pursued.

Insurers tend to hire Rawlings when enough cases are being filed over a product to warrant multi-district litigation status.

The report also quotes a spokeswoman from Aetna Inc, the nation’s third largest insurer, as saying: “We expect manufacturers to take reasonable responsibility for costs associated with a recall of their products to prevent the healthcare system from absorbing the impact.”

If you’ve received a DePuy hip or transvaginal mesh implant, you should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns. If you have significant injuries from either device, you should also consult with a lawyer familiar with the DePuy hip implant or transvaginal mesh case to discuss your legal rights.

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