Johnson & Johnson Filing Details DePuy ASR, Pinnacle Hip Implant Litigation Costs

Johnson & Johnson faces approximately 3,500 lawsuits involving the recalled DePuy ASR hip implant. According to Johnson & Johnson’s latest 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), litigation expenses and additional DePuy ASR hip recall costs of $223 million were recorded in the fiscal nine months of 2011.

In the aftermath of the DePuy ASR hip implant recall, the Johnson & Johnson report notes that “the number of pending lawsuits continues to increase. The Company continues to receive information with respect to potential costs associated with this recall” and has since established a “product liability accrual” in anticipation of product liability litigation settlements and costs associated with the ASR hip recall. Johnson & Johnson said it expects the DePuy ASR litigation to increase.

The ASR hip implant, made by Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics unit, was recalled in August 2010 because of a higher-than-expected early failure rate. As we’ve reported previously, it is believed that metal-on-metal hip implants can shed dangerous amounts of cobalt and chromium through wear, leading to tissue damage, premature device failure, the need for revision surgery, and even long-term health problems.

The Johnson & Johnson 10-Q filing also reported that roughly 560 lawsuits have been filed against an all-metal version of DePuy’s Pinnacle hip implant. As we’ve reported previously, DePuy Pinnacle hip implant lawsuits have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in federal court in Texas. Many of the injuries described in the Pinnacle complaints share similarities with DePuy ASR complications, and plaintiffs assert the all-metal Pinnacle device should have been subject to its own recall.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys expect to see more Pinnacle Hip Implant lawsuit filings in the coming months, and some believe their numbers could come to rival those filed over the DePuy ASR hip implant. The Pinnacle device was on the market years before the DePuy’s ASR implant was introduced, and according to a recent Reuters report, sales for all version of the Pinnacle device outpaced those of the ASR.

The DePuy Pinnacle and ASR hip implants are just two types of metal-on-metal hip implants which have been linked to serious complications and injuries. Since January 2011, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has received more than 5,000 complaints concerning artificial metal-on-metal hip implant devices. In May, the agency directed 21 makers of all-metal hip implants, including DePuy, Zimmer, Stryker, Biomet and Wright Medical, to conduct post-market studies of their devices to determine if they were shedding dangerous amounts of metallic debris in patients.

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