Hip replacements made by DePuy Pharmaceuticals have been the subject of thousands of lawsuits due to painful side effects. Recently, DePuy’s parent company, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to settle approximately 6,000 lawsuits brought against it.
The problem with these hip replacements is that they were designed as metal on metal. This was a defective design that meant that the metal ball and the metal cup rub against each other during physical activity such as walking or running. When the two metal surfaces grind against each other, metal particles are released into the bloodstream, causing a variety of ill effects. Here are some of the complications that patients have suffered from these hip implants:
- Metallosis – This is caused by the toxic metal particles being released into the bloodstream. The toxicity builds up in the soft tissue and can affect both the joint as well as neurological functions.
- Necrosis – The impact of the toxicity on the joint can cause the surrounding bone to die.
- Bone fractures – The surrounding bones may damage to the point of breaking.
- Revision surgeries – If the replacement joint fails, the patient will require a follow-up surgery to replace the artificial joint.
There were two primary problems with these hip replacements. The first was the fact that these devices were making patients sick and causing damage. The second was that the hip replacements were failing at high rates, requiring further surgery.
The DePuy hip replacement was recalled in 2010 for these exact same issues. In addition to the problems with metal poisoning, many of these hip replacements have failed completely, requiring an additional surgery. In the wake of the recall DePuy was forced to withdraw the product from the marketplace entirely as the FDA issued new regulations in 2013 which instituted higher safety standards. The hip replacements were initially approved under an expedited FDA program that did not require medical testing on humans before the hip replacements were approved. Since there was no clinical testing, many of these issues did not become known in advance of the device’s use. However, the lawsuits have alleged that DePuy knew or should have known that the hip replacements were defective.
There were several different types of hip replacements made by DePuy that were made entirely with metal. In addition, there was another design that involved an implant made with part metal and part plastic. Now, hip replacements are no longer made with metal after this series of product recalls. Instead, they are made with all plastic since that material has proven to be safer.
The resulting problem is that tens of thousands of patients still have this system implanted in their body and are at risk of the complications that are listed above. Nearly 100,000 total surgeries were performed using this medical device, and many of the hip replacements that have not yet failed may fail at some point. Prior to the recall, data had showed that roughly 12 percent of the hip replacements already implanted had failed.
DePuy was hit with tens of thousands of lawsuits both at the state and federal court level. In 2016, the company was hit with a $1 billion dollar jury verdict payable to six plaintiffs. The verdict included roughly $970 million in punitive damages. Previously, the company had won one test case and had been hit with a $500 million verdict in the other. The company had also already agreed to pay out billions of dollars in settlements to another class of plaintiffs. The jury found that the hip replacements were defectively designed and that the company knew about it, but failed to warn consumers.
By the beginning of 2019, there were roughly 10,000 lawsuits remaining against the device maker. DePuy indicated that they were trying to settle the remaining cases. This settlement addresses nearly all of the remaining lawsuits about the metal-on-metal hip replacements and comes close to bringing that chapter to an end for DePuy. The company still faces several thousand lawsuits for hip replacements that consist partly of metal. In addition, as patients begin to experience the side effects or device failure, they are filing lawsuits that have not been covered by the previous settlements.
This particular settlement is not being handled on a global basis. Instead, each attorney is receiving a set amount to divide between their clients based on the seriousness of their injuries. In addition, DePuy has also settled claims brought by 46 state attorneys general for a total of $120 million. The attorney general accused the company of improper marketing of their product when they claimed that there was just a one percent revision rate. The company knew this to be false when they made the claim, and the revision rate was over ten times higher than the company claimed.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates are very experienced with these cases. If you or a loved one have received a DePuy hip and have experienced complications, contact the firm today for a free evaluation of your case.
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