Washington, DCFurther to announcements made last week, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has said it will pay $2.5 billion to settle nearly 8,000 DePuy hip replacement lawsuits. DePuy Orthopaedics, a unit of J&J, withdrew its ASR XL Acetabular metal-on-metal hip replacement on August 24, 2010 following nearly 300 complaints from people undergoing hip replacement, and data which show that the implant fails sooner than earlier model implants.
Internal documents from J&J, which were unsealed during the case, suggest that company officials knew of problems with the ASR hip replacment as early as 2008. Further, according to a deposition from a J&J official, a company review of a patient registry done in 2011 showed that over one third of the ASR hip replacements were expected to fail within five years of implantation, in contrast to the 10-12 years other orthopedic hip replacements are generally expected to last.
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According to news reports, the J&J ASR hip replacement settlement is one of the largest ever concerning a defective medical device. The lawsuits were brought by patients who allege DePuy, a unit of J&J, made and sold defective metal ball-and-socket hip implants, which resulted in their requiring additional surgeries to have the defective device removed. Some people further alleged the implant leaves metal particles embedded in surrounding tissue as it wears down. The ASR is considered by a number of orthopedic experts to be a defective product.
The proposed settlement reportedly provides nearly $250,000 per patient and covers those who had their implants removed or replaced before August 31 this year. It is expected that the bulk of the payouts will be made in 2014.