Documents provided by the giant medical products company Johnson & Johnson in a court case in which the trial is scheduled to begin on January 25, 2013 in Los Angeles, California reportedly reveal that Johnson & Johnson anticipated that about 37% of its all-metal hip implants manufactured by its DePuy Orthopaedics division would fail within five years. The internal analysis was allegedly conducted in 2011 after Johnson & Johnson recalled its Articular Surface Replacement (“A.S.R.”) hip implants in mid-2010. The Johnson & Johnson analysis documents are expected to be revealed publicly during the trial.
Hip implants are expected to last for fifteen years or more before they wear out. Implants may need to be replaced sooner, but the rate of so-called early replacement is estimated to be about 1% after one year and only 5% at five years. The A.S.R. hip implants were recalled after data from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales indicated that the A.S.R. implants were failing earlier and at a higher rate than non-A.S.R. implants. DePuy Orthopaedics disputed the 2011 update to the National Joint Registry of England and Wales’ data that projected a failure rate of one-third for those patients who had their A.S.R. implants the longest.
An official with DePuy Orthopaedics testified during pre-trial proceedings in the California case that its reviews of A.S.R. failures in the fall of 2011 estimated that about 37% of patients who had received A.S.R. hip implants may need to have them replaced within five years of their original surgeries, based on an analysis of the number of A.S.R. implants that had already been replaced.
The A.S.R. hip implants were known as “metal-on-metal” implants because both the cup and the ball of the implants were made of metal. Because of the constant grind of the metal-on-metal when the hip implants functioned as intended, some patients experienced metal debris emanating from the implants that caused damage to local tissues and bones and some patients experienced spread of metal ions from the implanted hip to other parts of their body, causing injury and suffering.
Approximately one-third of the roughly 93,000 patients worldwide who received A.S.R. hip implants had their hip replacement surgeries in the United States. Of the two versions of the A.S.R. implants that were manufactured, only the standard hip implants were used in the United States (the other version, known as resurfacing, was not used in the United States because the FDA did not approve the resurfacing version due to its concern regarding reports of high concentration of metal ions in the blood of patients who had received the resurfacing version outside of the United States). Nonetheless, both versions of A.S.R. used the same metal cup.
Thousands of product liability lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics division regarding the A.S.R. hip implants in the United States, with approximately 7,000 of the lawsuits having been consolidated in a federal court in Ohio and 2,000 other lawsuits having been consolidated in a state court in California. Some of the lawsuits have been settled and others may be settled in the future.
If you or a loved one had implant surgery and suffered unexpected complications or injuries as a result, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney who may agree to investigate your possible implant claim for you and represent you in a product liability claim, if appropriate.
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