Emails, Expert Testimony Illustrate Dangers of the DePuy ASR

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The safety of the DePuy metal-on-metal hip implant continues to be called into question during the Kransky v. DePuy case currently taking place at the California Superior Court in Los Angeles County.  Emails and expert testimony paint the device in an unflattering light, especially when it comes to demonstrably heightened levels of metal that could adversely affect patients who have submitted to the implantation of the device.

Lawyers for Johnson and Johnson, the company behind DePuy and the ASR, contend that no design defects were had and that the device was not responsible for heightened levels of cobalt in the plaintiff’s blood.  But these assertions become somewhat dubious when you consider the facts:  the plaintiff, Mr. Kransky, received his ASR implant at the end of 2007.  Less than four years later, his cobalt levels were measured at 53.6 micrograms per liter, far higher than the 7 micrograms per liter that the California Poison Control System deems harmful.  Following his revision surgery, the number dropped precipitously to 5 micrograms per liter.

A University of California, San Francisco professor of medicine testified that an analysis should have been conducted on heightened metal levels caused by the device.  This ought to have occurred prior to the product’s release.  Instead, the product was brought to market without such an analysis, and thus many patients found themselves subjected to the accumulation of debris that occurs when the metal components rub against one another.

Emails from surgeons also show us that exorbitant revision rates quickly caught the eye of medical professionals.  Doctors across the world expressed worries about patient pain and heightened metal levels, and some of these worries made their way to DePuy employees.  Despite these complaints, at no point does it appear that DePuy considered halting sales, a fact that one of the company’s own engineers acknowledges.