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Day of Reckoning Approaching for Pinnacle MDL

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Louisville, KYOne week in advance of a landmark MDL hearing that may result in the consolidation of all DePuy Pinnacle lawsuits, legal eagles are anticipating a successful consolidation following similar Multidistrict Litigation decisions surrounding previously recalled DePuy hip implants.

The latter include the DePuy ASR and the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Systems that were recalled almost a year ago. The DePuy Pinnacle, at 150,000 units having outsold the ASR and ASR XL Acetabular devices, has also been associated with an undesirable failure rate.

Hip implants are designed to last upwards of 20 years under normal conditions. In other words, hip implant patients may not qualify to run marathons, but normal movements such as walking would not be expected to adversely stress a hip implant and initiate an early failure.

However, the DePuy hip implants—including DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement—have been known to require corrective surgery within five years or at the 25 percent mark of what would otherwise represent the implant's normal useful life span.

The Pinnacle, like the ASR devices, features a metal-on-metal design that allegedly has resulted in the release of minute metal shavings from the device into the patient's body. Infections can ensue, together with the release of toxins into a patient's bloodstream.

Lawyers for thousands of plaintiffs launching various legal actions against DePuy Orthopaedics allege that DePuy has known for some time that there were problems with its metal-on-metal systems.

With the aging baby boomers, together with a willingness on the part of surgeons to allow hip implants for younger patients suffering from the early onset of osteoarthritis, hip implant procedures are on the rise. The need for revision surgeries so soon after the initial implant procedure (in some cases, as early as 18 months) only puts added stress on the nation's health care system, patient finances and livelihoods as patients face yet another long recovery time.

DePuy Orthopaedics is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The MDL hearing on Pinnacle hip replacement will be heard by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 16.

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