Johnson & Johnson Faces Over 10,000 Lawsuits Over Artificial DePuy Hip Device Claims

Jury selection in the first trial over Johnson & Johnson’s recalled DePuy hip implant devices begins today in Maryland.  The lawsuit, one of more than 10,000 such suits, claims that the device left some patients immobilized and in pain.

The plaintiff in the Maryland suit is Moira Jackson, a former professional dancer who received two artificial hips. The suit claims that Johnson & Johnson did not properly warn her or her doctors about the implants’ risks, reports. The faulty DePuy ASR hips caused Jackson “severe physical distress and injury” and left her unable to lead a normal life, according to court filings. Jackson had her first hip implant in August 2006, the second four months later. Both hips required revision surgery less than five years after the original surgeries.

In August 2010, 93,000 DePuy units were recalled worldwide over high failure rates and complications unique to metal-on-metal implants. Of the total recalled units, 37,000 were implanted in the U.S., says. Studies have revealed that the implants shed metal ions when surfaces rub against each other, which may lead to a number of adverse reactions, including tissue necrosis, pain at the implant site that sometimes spreads to the groin and back, inflammation, swelling, metal poisoning, bone loss, and fluid collection/solid masses around the hip joint. More than 12 percent of the DePuy hip implants failed within five years, a higher than expected early failure rate.

In court filings, Johnson & Johnson denies that the device, which was cleared for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is defective and says that DePuy executives adequately warned patients and doctors about the device’s risk of failure.

As of September 2011, Johnson & Johnson faced more than 10,000 lawsuits over DePuy hips.  Many of the suits have been consolidated for pretrial information exchange before a federal judge in Ohio.

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