DePuy Orthopaedics and its parent, Johnson & Johnson, continue to be named in lawsuits by metal-on-metal hip replacement recipients who suffered severe injuries, including elevated chromium and cobalt levels, allegedly due to recalled ASR hip implant devices. Most recently, the national law firm of Parker Waichman LLP filed suit on behalf of a Williamsburg, Virginia, woman who was forced to undergo revision surgery just a few years after she received a Bi-Lateral DePuy ASR hip implant.
DePuy and Johnson & Johnson are named in more than 6,000 lawsuits involving its recalled metal-on-metal hip replacement devices. More than 4,000 claims are pending in the DePuy ASR hip implant multidistrict litigation, which is underway in the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern Ohio, while another 2,000 cases have been filed in state courts throughout the country. Plaintiffs in these lawsuits allege that the all-metal ASR hip replacement devices can shed dangerous amounts of metal debris in patients, leading to early implant failure, tissue and possible long-term health problems. Both DePuy’s ASR Hip Resurfacing System and ASR Acetabular System were named in a global recall in August 2010, after data from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales showed that 1 out of every 8 patients (12%-13%) who had received the devices had to undergo revision surgery within five years.
The claim filed by Parker Waichman LLP on behalf of the Virginia plaintiff is just one of many the firm has filed in the federal multidistrict litigation. According to the complaint, the 51-year-old woman was implanted with a Bi-Lateral DePuy ASR hip implant on February 13, 2007. In October 2010, she suffered pain, as well as elevated chromium and cobalt levels, allegedly due to her implants. Her injuries forced the plaintiff to undergo revision surgery on June 6, 2011 to have the ASR hip implants explanted.
It is likely that the first trials in the DePuy ASR hip implant multidistrict litigation will begin late this year or early next, as attorneys for both side agreed during a status conference last week that dates for bellwether trials should be set. Such trials will help gauge how juries might rule in similar DePuy ASR hip replacement lawsuits.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which is currently conducting a review of metal-on-metal hip replacement devices, will convene a panel of outside advisors next month to examine their safety issues. Roughly one year ago, the agency directed 21 companies that market all-metal hip replacements, including DePuy, to conduct post-market studies of their products to determine if they were shedding dangerous amounts of metallic debris in patients.