In a settlement recently announced, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay over $120 million to 46 states and Washington, D.C. to resolve numerous claims brought against the company’s hip implants. According to the announcement, the settlement is by far the largest the New Jersey-based company has made to cover injuries and other complications various persons experienced upon receiving a hip implant with the ASR XL and Pinnacle Ultamet devices.
The hip implants, which were made by Johnson & Johnson’s Medical Device Business Inc. division, formerly known as DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., first came to prominence when Johnson & Johnson reached an agreement in 2014 to pay over $4 million to patients in Oregon, who brought a lawsuit against the company through the Oregon Department of Justice regarding Johnson & Johnson’s ASR implants.
According to the attorney general of New York, a state which received almost $5 million from the settlement, “Companies should not be allowed to mislead the public when there are health concerns involved, and this settlement sends a message this will not be tolerated.” This, along with California attorney general Xavier Becerra’s comments that “Companies must be held accountable regarding customer trust and consumer protection laws,” demonstrate the wide-ranging claims that were made coast-to-coast regarding the hip implants.
However, while these comments and the large settlement between Johnson & Johnson and the various U.S. states may make it seem as if the company is admitting guilt, that is not the case. According to company spokesperson Mindy Tinsley, “The settlement involves no admission of liability or misconduct on the part of the companies, and DePuy Synthes continues to be committed to meeting the needs, both current and future, of orthopedic surgeons and patients across the United States.”
While reaching this settlement of $120 million with various states, Johnson and Johnson has also been battling numerous other legal cases involving its hip implants. In fact, in 2013 the company paid more than $2.5 billion in resolving civil lawsuits brought by patients against its ASR hip implants, which were eventually recalled. Along with this, it is also currently in the process of settling thousands of cases regarding the Pinnacle implant, due to losing a jury trial in which more than $1.75 billion was awarded to patients.
At the core of these lawsuits is allegations made by patients and their attorneys that Johnson & Johnson made misleading advertising claims about how long its hip implants would last when given to patients. As more data would later reveal, the National Joint Registry of England and Wales noted the Johnson & Johnson implants were found to have much higher failure rates than other implants. Because of this, numerous patients had to have their implants surgically removed due to high levels of pain and having traces of metal in their blood.
Under terms of the recent settlement, Johnson & Johnson must now agree to base any of its claims on the latest reliable scientific data, and must also make revisions to its complaint procedures. While states such as New York and California led the way in pursuing lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, others that figured prominently in the case included attorney general offices in Texas, South Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
Ironically, on the day the settlement was announced, Johnson & Johnson announced its latest quarterly revenues and sales forecast for 2019, both of which failed to meet expectations. When explaining this, the company pointed not to problems with any current products, but instead litigation expenses that had doubled to $1.29 billion, since the company is also facing lawsuits regarding its baby powder and various pharmaceutical drugs.
Learn more about Medical Device Lawsuits.