Johnson & Johnson is facing up to 10,000 law suits due to the failure of the all metal DePuy ASR hip implants. The implants were recalled in 2010 following acknowledgement on the part of Johnson & Johnson that the devices had a higher than expected failure rate. Internal documentation revealed that the company’s own estimates predicted that 37% would fail within 4.6 years. As many as 93,000 ASR hip implants were sold prior to the 2010 recall.
The first of these cases is currently being tried in Los Angeles Superior Court. The Plaintiff alleges that the defective implants released toxic amounts of metal ions causing a form of metal poisoning. Johnson & Johnson maintains that the levels were not high enough to cause health problems. Surgeons have predominantly stopped using metal on metal devices because of evidence that the components grind together and release metal debris, resulting in damage to tissue and bone.
Last month Johnson & Johnson recalled a 2nd type of metal hip implant that is sold outside the United States. The recent recall applies to the Adept metal-on-metal hip replacement device. Research shows that these devices need to be replaced after about 7 years in 12 % of the patients. Most hip implants are made with metal and plastic and often last up to 15 years.
For more information about problems associated with these devices and the recalls visit the FDA Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants page.