Opening Salvos In DePuy ASR Metal on Metal Hip Implant Case

Posted on January 25, 2013

A lawsuit filed against the makers of the Depuy ASR metal on metal hip implant has reached the state court level in Los Angeles, and evidence has been turned up which further calls into question the safety of the device.

It’s been alleged that the all-metal implant from Johnson & Johnson can fail at inordinately high rates and that continued rubbing among the components can lead patients to incur excessive levels of metal ions that could be potentially hazardous to their health.

The plaintiff’s primary care doctor backs up this fact, saying that the individual’s symptoms were consistent with heavy metal exposure and that there was nothing to suggest that the poisoning could be caused by anything other than the metal implant.  A doctor ruled last week that testimony from the man’s doctors would be allowed, despite efforts from Johnson & Johnson to get such accounts barred from the trial.

But it’s a document from Johnson & Johnson itself that casts a particularly startling shadow.  A review of 554 hip implants showed that 37% of the devices were expected to fail after 4.57 years.  During pretrial testimony, a DePuy biostatistician agreed with this assessment, which was illustrated by a graph.  That would make the failure rate far higher than the 12% to 13% failure rate cited when a recall was announced.

The reason for the recall has also come into question.  Although J & J claimed the recall was a remedial or precautionary measure, plaintiff lawyers point to memos which suggest the recall was actually issued for financial reasons.

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