J&J adds $420M to legal stockpile to resolve all-metal hip implant suits

Johnson & Johnson's ASR all-metal hip implant--Courtesy of Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) is shelling out as much as $420 million to resolve claims over recalled hip implants, adding to its previous $2.5 billion settlement and laying more lawsuits in its ongoing courtroom battle to rest.

The company's DePuy unit earlier this year agreed to push back the deadline for patients who received its ASR implants to file settlement claims, allowing as many as 1,400 people who have had ASR hips removed since 2013 to seek about $300,000 each in compensation under the original accord, Bloomberg reports. The new settlements will resolve almost all of the existing hip-implant suits, with J&J doling out cash compensation payments to patients totaling about $3 billion.

When all is said and done, J&J will most likely pay upward of $4 billion by the time it resolves all the implant cases, said Carl Tobias, a product-liability law professor at Virginia's University of Richmond, in an interview with the news outlet.

The New Brunsick, NJ-based company recalled 93,000 ASR hip implants worldwide in August 2010, citing a 12% failure rate within 5 years. J&J had touted the devices as designed to last 20 years and offer a greater range of motion, according to court filings seen by Bloomberg. But failures continued to pile up, and dislocations and pain forced patients to have removal surgeries. Individuals receiving the implants also alleged the devices were defectively designed, causing metal ions to build up in the bloodstream.

J&J's Pinnacle hip implant--Courtesy of Johnson & Johnson

In August 2013, the FDA rolled out more stringent regulations for metal-on-metal hip implants, prompting J&J to stop selling its metal-on-metal hip implants. Last November, the company agreed to fork over $2.5 million to settle thousands of lawsuits claiming injuries by its ASR all-metal hip implants.

J&J's DePuy arm scored a victory in its all-metal hip litigation last October, as a Texas jury ruled against a woman who claimed that the company's Pinnacle devices poisoned her and caused undue pain and suffering. The 9-member panel found that the devices did not have design defects and the company sufficiently warned patients and doctors about the products' risks. But J&J/DePuy still face more than 6,000 lawsuits over the Pinnacle hip implants, including some cases consolidated before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Dallas.

Meanwhile, other med tech companies are dealing with suits related to defective all-metal hip products. Stryker ($SYK) and Biomet are facing legal pushback for metal hip implants, countering suits in court or in some cases, settling claims. In November, Stryker agreed to shell out at least $4.38 billion to settle more than 4,000 lawsuits alleging it sold faulty metal implants to patients. The Kalamazoo, MI-based company in 2012 recalled its Rejuvenate and ABG II metal hip implants after reports of problems, costing it $700 million in charges.

- read the Bloomberg story

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