Last week, Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics announced an international recall of all ASR-brand hip replacements. This move comes after two years of reports from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies that the hip replacement had a higher-than-expected rate of failures. The recall also came after the company had already decided to phase out the hip implant due to declining sales, but did not include an admission that this was a defective product. In 2008, the New York Times reported that reported problems with the ASR Hip implant were growing, with over 400 complaints reported from 2008 to 2010, and 90% of those complaints involving a full replacement for the implants. In late 2009, the director of the Australian implant database went to the company with reports that the ASR was failing earlier and more frequently than other companies’ hip replacement devices. At the director’s pressure, the company withdrew the implant from the market in Australia in December 2009, which he described as “way too late.” DePuy issued an advisory in March that some patients were at an increased risk for failures, but only after it had decided to phase out the implant due to declining sales, a decision it had made in January 2010. However, in August the data from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales (NJR) showed a very high failure rate for the ASR. About 12-13% of the implants failed within five years–even though they were supposed to last 15 years or more. This is about twice the failure rate reported for Zimmer Durom Hip Replacements recalled in 2008. In addition, there are concerns that many people who had metal on metal joint replacements, like the ASR hip implants, are suffering secondary effects due to metal filings shaved off the components. These secondary effects can be local, like bone and soft-tissue failures, or potentially systemic, like bowel and kidney inflammation as well as heart, nerve, and thyroid problems. It is clear from DePuy’s actions that it, like many large corporations, responds more to market pressure than to either regulatory requests or concern about the end-users of its products. A product liability lawsuit can help it understand that individual lives matter, and every injury should be considered seriously. If you have suffered an injury due to the ASR hip replacement or another defective medical device, the product liability lawyers of Robert W. Kerpsack, CO. LPA can help. Please contact us today for a free consultation.
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