More than 90,000 patients received a DePuy hip implant, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. The company reportedly knew that these all-metal hip implants would fail within the first five years in nearly 40% of patients. However, they neglected to share that information publicly, according to recently released court documents.
The company became aware of the high failure risk following an internal analysis of the product, completed in 2011 after the hip recall was initiated in 2010. Even as the analysis neared completion, Johnson & Johnson continued to publicly downplay similar results found by a British implant registry, reports The New York Times. This analysis is just one of the hundreds of documents that will soon become public in a series of lawsuits brought by patients who received the ASR device.
The hip implant at the center of the controversy consists of a metal cup and ball. Surgeons stopped using the device in 2010 after discovering that repeated grinding of the components within the patient’s body released metal debris, damaging tissues and bones. According to The New York Times, these particular metal-on-metal hip implants failed at three times the rate of other artificial hips. When first released, Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics insisted that the failure rate was 12-13%, even though their own data showed a failure rate of up to 40%.
More than 10,000 patients have filed lawsuits following the failure of their DePuy hip replacement, according to Attorney Lindsay Rakers, writing for The Legal Examiner. Although the ASR is no longer being used in the United States, these lawsuits remind us of the risks inherent with any joint replacement surgery. Last year, an Oxford University study found insufficient data on the long-term effectiveness and reliability of knee replacements. The same research team also found that many patients who underwent knee replacement surgery were young or had mild symptoms, and may not have actually needed the surgery.