J&J officials knew about DePuy hip replacement problems years before recall, lawyers allege

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by Heygood Orr and Pearson

Documents uncovered in an ongoing lawsuit against DePuy Orthopaedics have revealed that executives at Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of DePuy, knew about critical design flaws with the company’s metal-on-metal hip replacements years before they were pulled from sale. DePuy recalled its ASR XL Acetabular System and ASR Hip Resurfacing System hip replacements in August 2010 after researchers found that they devices were more likely to fail prematurely than other hip implants.

Lawyers involved in a California DePuy lawsuit introduced documents last week which found that executives at Johnson & Johnson knew that the DePuy hip replacements were more likely to shed metal particles through normal wear and tear than other hip replacements. These metal fragments can cause broken bones, dislocation of the hip replacement, tissue damage, and chromium or cobalt poisioning.

Despite knowing about the problems with DePuy hip replacements and the risk that these design flaws could pose for patients, executives with Johnson & Johnson decided to leave the hip replacements on the market. In addition to the thousands of patients who have suffered problems with a DePuy hip replacement, many more patients whose hip implants could fail in the future may also experiences complications from these devices down the road.

More than 10,000 hip replacement lawsuits have already been filed by patients who experienced problems with a DePuy hip implant. In many cases, these patients were forced to undergo costly surgery in order to have the faulty hip replacement removed and replaced because of side effects caused by the device.