Johnson & Johnson accused of gambling with patient safety

During the closing arguments for the first lawsuit related to the ASR XL all-metal hip implant manufactured by Johnson and Johnson subsidiary DePuy to go to trial, the plaintiff’s attorney accused the orthopedics manufacturer of taking unnecessary risks with patients ‘health and safety. According to the attorney’s allegations, the company did not warn medical professionals or patients of potential dangers associated with their product, despite receiving reports from surgeons complaining of medical complications and product defects and studies that indicated the product exhibited abnormally high rates of failure.

DePuy’s ASR XL metal-on-metal hip implant, first introduced to the U.S. market in 2005, was voluntarily recalled in August of 2010 when officials determined the device had a premature failure rate of 12 percent within five years of installation surgery.

The first of more than 10,000 lawsuits filed by ASR XL hip implant patients was filed by a 65-year-old Montana man, who alleges that the device caused several medical problems, including metal poisoning. One of the plaintiff’s lawyers accused the company of knowingly marketing the product to patients like the plaintiff, who was fitted with the implant in 2007, while knowing that it might be unsafe. The plaintiff had a second revision surgery to replace the allegedly defective all-metal artificial hip implant in early 2012. Revision surgery is more complicated than the original installation surgery and with a more painful and lengthier recovery process. These surgeries also have a higher rate of failure.

Johnson and Johnson voluntarily recalled approximately 93,000 of these all-metal hip implants in 2010 in cooperation with a request made by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

The plaintiff’s attorney asked that his client be awarded $5 million for medical expenses and as compensation for pain and suffering in addition to up to $179 million in punitive damages. Many legal experts predict that these lawsuits could cost Johnson and Johnson billions of dollars.