Today in open federal court in Toledo, Ohio, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay at least $2.47 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits over its recalled hip implants. The agreement would settle about 8,000 U.S. suits against J&J’s DePuy unit brought by patients who have already had artificial hips removed. The company will pay an average of about $250,000 for each surgery and cover related medical costs.
Johnson & Johnson Under Fire from Lawsuits
The settlement is the second multibillion-dollar settlement this month for J&J. The company, agreed November 4 to pay $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil probes into the marketing of Risperdal and other medicines.
Unacceptable DePuy ASR Hip Failure Rates
The company recalled 93,000 ASR hip implants worldwide in August 2010, saying 12 percent failed within five years. Internal J&J documents show 37 percent of ASR hips failed after 4.6 years. In 2012, the failure rate in Australia climbed to 44 percent within seven years.
Settlement Eligibility Criteria
Under the settlement terms, only plaintiffs who had defective hips removed by August 31 of this year are eligible for this round of compensation and the patients must have had the implant for at least 180 days before having it removed.
The settlement will cover regular hip-revision surgeries while another will cover “extreme injuries” linked to the procedures, such as heart attacks or strokes.
The settlement doesn’t prevent patients who develop future hip failures from seeking compensation and that may add billions of dollars to the ultimate value of the settlement. J&J also agreed to pay back third party insurance carriers, medicare, medicaid and cover other medical expenses incurred during the removal or revision of the hip implant.
What was the problem with DePuy ASR?
J&J pushed the metal-on-metal implants aggressively, which was first sold in the U.S. in 2005, as a new design that would last 20 years and offer greater range of motion.
Patients claimed that the metal-on-metal implant caused dislocations, pain and revision surgeries. The lawsuits alleged that debris released by the grinding action of the component parts from the chromium and cobalt device caused tissue death and increased metal ions in the bloodstream. This release of metal debris and increased chromium and cobalt levels in the blood, caused a form of blood poisoning known as metallosis.
The company faces a total of about 12,000 suits filed in federal courts and state courts in California, Illinois and New Jersey. The settlement covers the more than 7,500 patients who had surgery to have DePuy hips removed. The remaining claims were filed by patients who haven’t yet had revision surgeries.
The consolidated federal case is In re DePuy Orthopedics Inc., ASR Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, 10-MD-2197, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio (Toledo).