Product News and Recalls

Documents show J&J knew hip implant had high failure rate

Legal documents released in Johnson & Johnson’s trial regarding all-metal hip implants reveal that the company was aware of problems with the devices in 2008 – two years before recalling them, the Wall Street Journal reports.

For example, the company was in possession of clinical data showing “extreme” levels of metal ions in patients who received the devices, compared to patients who received a product from a rival company. The all-metal implants are prone to shedding toxic metal debris in patients’ bodies.

The Journal says the devices are known as the articular surface replacement, or ASR, system. Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics manufactured them.

A trial beginning in California Superior Court in Los Angeles County will be the first of approximately 10,000 lawsuits based on allegations that the devices were inherently faulty, obliging patients to undergo costly and painful surgery.

Another unsealed document from 2011 indicates that Johnson & Johnson’s own estimates put the devices’ failure rate within five years at nearly 40 percent. Under generally accepted standards, the Journal reports, the failure rate within that span of time should be no more than 5 percent.

The ASR devices, also called metal-on-metal implants, include both a ball and a socket coated with a mixture of cobalt and chromium. Ironically, they were initially marketed as a more durable alternative to traditional models that incorporate plastic and ceramic.

Analysts expect the company’s legal liability to eventually exceed $1 billion, according to the Journal.

You should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns from a DePuy hip implant. If you have significant injuries, you should also consult with a DePuy hip lawyer to discuss your legal rights.

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